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Fairfield Says 'Bienvenue' To French Exchange Students

Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau chats with a group of exchange students from Nimes, France, on Friday. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau chats with an exchange student from Nimes, France, who presented him with a calendar featuring photos of Nimes. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau poses with 20 students visiting from Nimes. France, and their teachers. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

FAIRFIELD, Conn, — Twenty French exchange students said bonjour to First Selectman Michael Tetreau on Friday, peppering him with questions about everything from what the town learned from Hurricane Sandy to his thoughts on Obamacare.

Hailing from Nimes, France, the students and their two teachers have been staying with families across town since Oct. 29 and will be here through Nov. 10, witnessing Tuesday’s historic election from this side of the Atlantic, said their teacher Fabienne Goizin.

“They are very, very happy,” she said. “Each American family has been so, so friendly.”

A group of Fairfield students will travel to Nimes, in April 2017 as part of the exchange, which has been going on for about 36 years, Goizin said.

The group spent part of Friday morning visiting with Tetreau before heading to the Fairfield Museum & History Center and the Police and Fire departments.

After Tetreau, whose father was French Canadian, explained his job as first selectman, a student asked if he had another job in addition to the elected post.

“No. Some would argue I have enough trouble with this job,” he joked.

Asked what he considered his finest achievement, Tetreau didn’t skip a beat.

“The New York Giants winning the Super Bowl,” he said.

Tetreau told the students about some of the disasters the town has withstood during his tenure, including Hurricane Sandy. More than 1,000 homes were damaged and 350 trees tangled with electrical wires during the storm, he said.

"We were the hardest hit town in the state of Connecticut,” he said.

Asked who will win the presidential election, the Democrat said he believes Hillary Clinton has the edge, but he said it’s difficult to take the pulse of a nation so large.

“From sitting in one little town in Connecticut, it’s hard to look across the whole country,” he said. “There is no typical American.”

He also predicted a long night for the politically minded Tuesday.

“It will be 11 o’clock here before polls have closed in California,” he said.

Most of the exchange students, who are high school seniors, have taken seven years of English, but many have not flown outside of France, said teacher Celine Casili. They are enjoying their four trips to New York City, jaunts to Yale University and the Maritime Aquarium and shadowing their host students at Fairfield Warde and Ludllowe high schools.

“It looks affluent compared to our school,” Goizin said.

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