About Réunion Island and us

Réunion Island is situated in the Indian Ocean, approximately 22 degrees South, 55 degrees East, between Mauritius and Madagascar. The flight to Mauritius takes about 8 hours with a further 45 minutes to La Réunion.

The WA/La Réunion Student Exchange, established in the early 1980s, is an annual reciprocal hosting program for students of French in WA schools and students of English in La Réunion.

We are a 100% voluntary committee of WA French teachers. Our committee selects and matches students with an appropriate French applicant, provide support to the host families during the stay here and deal with organisational matters relating to the exchange. We also select the Western Australian students who go on exchange to La Réunion and four committee members accompany about 40 students to La Réunion each year.

Meet the team

Carolyn Vinton


Carolyn Vinton has had a long association with French in the Western Australian and global school system. Her travels to study and work in Canada, England, and France have strengthened her passion for the French language, and Carolyn now teaches at the Davallia Primary School. Her affiliation with WALRSE began in 2014. As president she is proud of the history of this exchange, which brings an immersive approach to language learning and provides opportunities for lifelong international friendships.

Maria Melchiorre

Vice President

Maria has a longstanding passion for Reunion Island, and has seen many changes on the island since her first trip in 1982. As a foundation member, Maria has helped and accompanied hundreds of hosting and travelling students over the last 35 years. Witnessing generation after generation of students travelling has enabled her to forge strong friendships. For Maria, the most rewarding part of this exchange is seeing the students grow with their families and return to this unique linguistic and cultural exchange years later.

Pat Young

Data Secretary

Meet Pat Young, a cornerstone of the Rossmoyne Senior High School community. With a career centered around teaching French, Pat has been an integral committee member since 2004, contributing her expertise in various capacities. Currently, she holds the pivotal role of coordinating the Rossmoyne SHS Gifted and Talented (Languages) Program, a testament to her commitment to nurturing linguistic excellence. Pat Young’s enduring dedication has left an indelible mark, shaping the language education landscape within our school and beyond.

For Teachers

Eager for your students to progress linguistically, but not in a position to organise an overseas tour at your school? We can do it for you.

The WA/ La réunion Student Exchange (WALRSE) will advertise for applicants from Years 9-12 around August and February of every year, so look out for our correspondence at the start of the school year and mid-way through the academic year. Students will apply through our application forms, with supporting evidence from you and your principal required as part of the application process. After that, it’s hands off for you, to concentrate on all the other things that teaching requires of you! Your student will go through a matching process with us, finding the best combo we can find in the applicants from Réunion Island.

They will either host first or travel first, depending on when they apply for the exchange, but hosting is a requirement, as we are a reciprocal exchange. Hosting happens in December/ January (a period of 3-4 weeks, the duration of which will be confirmed each year). While travel to the island (and full immersion for your students) happens in June/ July around the July holiday break, again for 3-4 weeks. We also have your student attend a hosting day event in Term 4, to prepare them and their families for hosting a French student. And of course, an orientation day event in Term 3, as a pre-travel information session before heading with the tour group to the island.

They are accompanied by a volunteer group of teachers who check in with them every week and see them at shared events on the island. We ask you to allow your students to present a small slide show to the class on their return, so that they can spread the word, of what we as an organisation do, amongst their peers, and we would appreciate if you help facilitate this during lesson time. Otherwise, it’s benefits, growth and confidence boosting for your French students, without the heavy investment of time and paperwork for you. Why not contact us now to find out more?

For Families

Are you ready for your child to spread their wings and improve their French at the same time? Are you ready to welcome a French student into your home and your lives? Then this reciprocal exchange of 3-4 weeks could be exactly what you are looking for.

Many school tours to France are prohibitively expensive and can end up with your child spending a lot of their time speaking in English with their classmates, rather than the full immersion you would wish from a trip to a foreign country. The WA/ La Réunion Student Exchange (WALRSE) allows your child to be immersed in a French family, speaking, playing, socialising and pitching in with their correspondent’s family, while surrounded by French for 3-4 weeks in June/ July. They are accompanied by a team of teacher volunteers, who speak to every child once a week and see them each week at the three organised events. We carefully match our applicants with students of a similar age with similar interests from Réunion Island, to help facilitate a bond that many have continued for life, long after the exchange, schooling and study is forgotten. In return, your child’s correspondent will travel to Australia as part of an exchange group, with our sister organisation, Tang Koala, and they will be hosted by your family for a matching amount of time in December/ January.

The Réunion island students will practice their English in this time, so we encourage the whole family to get involved in chatting to your host student and showing them the beauty of WA in summer. Our exchange program pricing often comes in at a lot less than school tours, as we are flying across the Indian Ocean, rather than around the world, and the reciprocal hosting nature of the trip eliminates the cost of covering weeks of overseas hotels. If this style of immersive, family-based exchange sounds just right for you and your child, please get in touch.

For Students

Are you ready to stretch yourself linguistically, taking your French to the next level, while enjoying the full French family experience on a tropical island? Are you in Year 9-12 and a current student of French? Well, then this may be the language exchange for you. The WA/ La Réunion Student Exchange (WALRSE) have been taking groups of students to Réunion Island, (a small slice of French territory in the Indian Ocean) since 1983!

During the July school holidays (and a week or two either side of that) we travel as a group to the island, finding host families for you to live with, so that you can eat ,sleep and breathe French, improving your speaking ability in ways you can only imagine. All while exploring a volcanic, tropical island full of animals, fruits and places you’ve never seen the likes of before! We also run group events during your stay, that allow you to touch base with us, touch base with other students have have a bit of down-time after all that French speaking, thinking (and hopefully dreaming!) that you will have been doing.

Your host student will then come to Perth and spend 3-4 weeks doing the exact same thing with you and your family in December/ January, improving their English, while enjoying all that the WA summer holidays have to offer. Ask your French teacher for information on our exchange today, or contact us for more information.

How to apply

  1. Download and read the instruction form
  2. Download and fill out the application form
  3. Post the form to
    Pat Young, Data Secretary,
    PO Box 264, Nedlands,
    WA, 6909
  4. $500 down payment is required
    Account Name: WA/ La Reunion Student Exchange
    Beyond Bank, BSB: 325185,
    ACC: 0133 0572

All initial application payments (non-refundable $500 payment) are to be sent via bank transfer to our WALRSE Association account. (If your child is not accepted for the exchange, your payment will be returned to you)

Contact us