For an all too brief 9 months in 1973, 150 Canadian kids lived and learned in Lausanne, Switzerland. CJC was a magical place and time for many of us who, until then, had simply "gone to school".
Free of parental supervision and living with Swiss familes, we plunged into the strange and wonderful world of French Switzerland.
Living in somebody's house as a guest is certainly different. When your host only speaks French and feels a near-religous need to civilize a barbarian from the New World, things change.
On arrival at a small village up the mountain from Lausanne, I was informed that English was not permitted in the house. It also became clear that if I wanted to eat, I would have to ask for food in grammatically perfect French. Learning took place rapidly.
To get around, those of us living outside of the city had to use velos or mopeds. These machines were a combination of a bicycle and a severely handicapped motorcycle. The engines were hobbled to prevent attaining any speed one could consider interesting.
Going to school was exhilarating as it was down steep and curvy roads. It was possible to put the velo in neutral and go as fast as nerves would allow.
The trip home was less dramatic, with top speeds of 5 or 6 miles an hour possible. The crowning indignity was the school rule requiring the wearing of helmets. None of the Swiss kids did, and it was a source of considerable amusement to them.
While the living situation was different, the soul of a school really comes from the teachers. And we had a great group of people as our teachers. They weren't that well paid and probably wondered what they had gotten into, but they had enormous energy and entusiasim.
English class ended with a class production of Oscar Wilde's Lady Windemere's Fan. I played a somewhat improbable long-haired part.
Where are they now? Not sure. I have spent my life travelling and living outside of Canada thanks in no small part to the experience gained at CJC.
After a few contacts from former classmates, I have created a Group on LinkedIn for those who want to get in touch with each other.
UPDATE: 2013 09 24: A group of classmates is organizing a 40th reunion in Toronto. The announced date is Oct 18th, 2014. A website has been set up here: http://cjc40threunion.wordpress.com/