Jacques Pinault, whose idea this all was originally, remembers that his level of English in his final year at school was insufficient to enable him to follow and understand a conversation in English correctly. A trip to England taught him that the English school leaver’s level of French was equally poor.
It was clear to him that a language had to be learnt through first hand experience at an early age. To begin with he wanted to send six year olds!
After much discussion and thought the first exchange began in September 1978 between Xavier and Alison. The exchange was a success and brought two more inquiries, thus the snow ball was set in motion and grew and grew and is still growing.
Things grew quickly and we soon moved on from dealing simply with England to dealing with the whole of the British Isles right up to the Shetlands!
It was not until two years later that a group of parents decided to form a non-commercial organization. The name EN FAMILLE was suggested by Jacques and it was accepted. EN FAMILLE INTERNATIONAL would come 12 years later.
An association’s life is like a ship that has to cross storms from time to time. We have had to weather two big storms, where adults could not agree with each other. We have learnt from and been strengthened by the experience.
The important thing is that we are there for the children and not the other way round.
In September 1986 after much hard work and a few meetings, the go ahead was given for the first exchange with Ireland.
In February 1989 Ian, Jacques and Katherine’s eldest son, began the first exchange with Germany. His brothers and sister followed, as did many other children.
It was not until September 1991 that exchanges in the first two years of secondary school were allowed, and then only for children who had already done an exchange in primary school.
In September 1997 the first American arrived in France. Since then Jacques spends a week in California and a week in Ontario, Canada during the Easter holidays and in 2001 his wife accompanied him for the first time. The European and American ways of life really are very different. Every year we learn more and improve.
In California, Laura Rice is our Representative. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Then finally in September 2000 Aline from Brittany flew to Australia! From her point of view it was a great success and she could not wait to go back!
As from January 2002, in Australia, En Famille Inc is registered under the Associations Incorporations Act (Vic) N° A0042077B. So now we can look for families in Australia!
Since September 2007, we started linguistic exchanges with Spain!
At the moment so as to be able to maintain a high standard we try not to go over 80 exchanges per year which means that we have 160 families to keep track of.
It keeps Dona, Helga, Katherine, Jacques and Ximena quite busy and out of mischief.