Independence in England

Independence students ready for their trip to England. PHOTO COURTESY JEFF JONES

by Derek Lacey / Staff Writer

This spring break, a group of Independence High School students made the trip across the Atlantic, to England, as part of the exchange program at the school.

Students traveled to Worcestershire, England, to stay with the families of exchange students they hosted in October 2012.

The exchange program allows students to broaden their horizons and meet people from around the world.

“This exchange facilitates growth for the students on a multitude of levels,” said Katie Willett, social sciences teacher and chaperone for the trip. “It provides students an opportunity to meet a person from a different country and to explore it with all its successes and failures from a native.”

Indy students Lauren Burrows, Kathia Toledo, Terhass Yosief, Connor Owens, Tanner Barnett, Keven Gomez, Josh Cobb, Crystal Conde went on the trip, where they are attending Kingsley College and visiting local historical and cultural sites.

Students are finding out just how different schooling is at Kingsley, where students don’t earn points, don’t go to class until 9 am, and don’t get regular grades but have major exams that determine which universities they can attend.

Historical sites on the trip add to the learning experience, and help the students to grasp what life in the country could be like.

Stratford Upon Avon, Birmingham, Cadbury World, Warwick Castle, and Oxford are all on the itinerary.

“It allows students to become travelers, not tourists,” Willett said. “ A tourist is someone who visits a country just to see the sights.  A traveler is someone who experiences the culture, history and society of a country and tries to understand the people within its borders.”

A typical day for the students is arriving at school and being marked down for attendance, grouped up for announcements, and then it’s off to class, and then home to host families. There are usually after school happenings like going to the movies or to eat, and the host families organize day trips on the weekends. A tour of London will culminate their trip.

The trip will give the students an opportunity to represent their country, and Willett said she hopes the trip will help to form some life-long friendships, no matter the distance between them.

“It is also an opportunity for students to be ambassadors for the United States. Students will learn more about themselves and the world within these two weeks than they will have in the four walls of a classroom.  Most importantly, it is hoped that the students walk away from this experience with a life-long friend.”

The students made their way back to the states Wednesday, April 3, after what was surely a life-changing experience.

“It has been my pleasure to organize this venture to help students experience their world,” Willett said. “I have received very positive feedback from many of the teachers at Kingsley College about our students; they have made great ambassadors.  What a terrific group of young people.”