The Amity program adds so much to our school:


Happy New Year to all our wonderful Merriconeag families! I hope you enjoyed these fabulous few days of vacations and that you have started the New Year full of energy and good resolutions. As for me I have been reflecting on my role as a French teacher in the High School, as International exchange coordinator and as mentor to our young Amity Aides who come with such generous hearts to help our in our school. This Amity Aide Program has become an integral part of our High School in particular.

For the past three years, we have experienced the benefits of hiring, via the program offered by Amity Institute, international young people to help in various ways on our two campuses: driving the van, helping with a variety of classes such as Music, French, German, Eurythmy, Math… They have all been gracious, hardworking, flexible and kind to everyone while adding a rich dose of international flavor to our small Maine campus. This Amity program is a wonderful program that adds so much to our school, to the full benefit of our students at little cost to the school.

Having had the privilege to work closely with both Lucie and Amandine I am at loss explaining how much they add to our French program: helping in class preparations, providing fresh and new cultural insights, giving special attention to students who need extra help in the language for various reasons as not all our students have the same language background. It allows me, the main language teacher, to be able to give full attention to the class knowing these students will get the extra help they need thanks to the assistants. Both Lucie and Amandine have also been incredibly helpful in SAT Language Preparations as well as the National French Competition that we do now every year, thanks to their logistical help.

But all this would not be possible without your help, yes the help of the community. In order to continue this great program, we have to be sure that we can find host families for our Aides. They don’t ask for much beside their own private room; they are not long term guests! They want to be treated like a member of the family, sharing daily joys and worries, morning rush to school and ski races, dinner preparations and conversations, daily chores etc… in short, they want to experience life in an American family in total simplicity.
For the moment, we are looking for a new family for Amandine who lived her first Maine semester with the Leavitt family; it was agreed that Amandine would move to a new family for the second half of the year so as to have a different experience, just like Lucie who shared her year between the Perkins and the Stoddards. All these families can testify how much fun it has been to host an Amity Aide and how enriching and helpful the experience has been for their family. Now Amandine, being a little older than the other Amity Aides, had a fiancé in Texas whom she has just …married on New Year’s Day! Being respectful of her Amity contract, Amandine will finish the school year at MWS and will join her husband in June. But it means that all 3 day week-ends and every vacation, she plans to fly back to Texas.

If you would like to volunteer hosting Amandine from February to June, please let me or Mr O’Brien know.

If you can’t host this year but would love to try the experience next year, please let us know also. We can only continue this program if we can be sure to find host families for our assistants. It would be a shame to cancel the Amity Program for pure logistical reasons while it is such a successful program otherwise! I know personally how rich and life transforming this experience can be, as I was… the 1st Amity Aide at Mt Ararat School in 1974!
Please, share this conversation with your family; don’t be shy in opening your door. Your family will greatly benefit from this rich International exchange!

Thank you in advance.

Regine Whittlesey,
MWHS French teacher and… former Amity Aide.