No French exit: Callaway’s Alice Potie bids a heartful goodbye to America

Published 8:50 am Wednesday, May 15, 2024

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Alice Potie will not be pulling a French exit. The foreign exchange student is in her final couple of weeks stateside as she prepares to head back to Lille, France at the end of May, but she is taking every chance to say goodbye to as many people as she can before she goes.

Potie may have only spent one school year at Callaway, but she feels like a Cavalier for life. This year impacted in her ways she anticipated and ways that she could never have imagined when she said her temporary goodbye to her native country at the end of last summer.

“I really never expected people to be so kind and welcoming here,” Potie said. “Everybody made me feel welcomed. It doesn’t feel like I’m about to leave. Nine months went by so fast.”

Culture shock was imminent when she arrived stateside. Troup County is far from the glamour and glitz of Los Angeles and the bustling streets of New York City, but it offers its fair share of its own charms. One of them being the accents, that Potie took some time to decipher.

“The language barrier and the accents were difficult at first,” Potie said with a laugh. “I finally got used to it, but it sounds way different than what I’m used to.”

The people are the real charm she found in this little slice of The Peach State. It is what is making her final goodbye so difficult.

Potie’s goal when she got here was simple: try as many new experiences as possible. Whether it was food, academics, athletics or many other aspects of American culture, Potie approached it with an open mind. 

The food did not quite make the same impression that the cuisine in France did.

“The food is good here, but I miss food back home so bad,” Potie said. “My dad is going to pick me up from the airport and we are going to get some food.”

Athletics were never at the forefront of her mind in France, but Potie wanted to try as many school sports as she could. She ended up playing sports in three different seasons — volleyball, flag football and soccer.

Despite coming from a country where soccer is practically a religion, Potie did not play organized soccer back home. However, she quickly found a place on the soccer field with her Cavaliers.

“I wanted to play a sport in every season and this is actually my first year ever playing soccer,” Potie said with a chuckle. “Some of the girls on the team were my friends, so it was an easy decision to come out.”

The Callaway girls soccer team will miss having Potie around, not just because of her immense talent, but because of her personality and character as well.

“She had this desire you can teach,” Callaway assistant coach Jeff McGuffin said. “I mean, seriously, the first game she played for us this year, she came off the bench and went in and then she played really well. She came off the field crying because she felt like she wasn’t doing it right. And that’s really all you needed to know about her commitment to the team. She was always in the front of the group focused and listening.

“She was pivotal to this team, no doubt. And that is from a playing standpoint as well as a bringing the team together standpoint. Everybody on the team loved her and you could see by how they reacted when she scored a goal.”

Potie also found a place on the volleyball and flag football teams at Callaway High. She had experience playing volleyball with her friends back in France, but, unsurprisingly knew very little about the sport of football other than the fact that it intrigued her.

“I had never played competitive volleyball before, just with my friends and football is not even something we have in France, so it was completely new to me,” she said, laughing.

Playing flag football, like most of her experiences in the States, was new. Potie wanted to leave the United States with new experiences, lifelong memories and some new friends and that is exactly what she got.

“It really has been an amazing experience and I have met some amazing people that it’s hard to say goodbye to,” Potie said.