The British are coming!

Erin Harris, Sports Editor

In 1775, during the Revolutionary War, Robert Newman lit two lanterns warning the Colonies that the British were approaching by sea. Famous Patriot, Paul Revere, then rode his “Midnight Ride” going from town to town warning American colonists that the British military was coming to attack. Revere was later credited with the phrase, “The British are coming!”  

Now in 2019, the British are once again coming, no longer as enemies but as friends. 

Back in 1999, former Superintendent of MASD, Dr. Bleggi and an administrator from England, Trevor Coldman, started the England Exchange Program at Mechanicsburg High School. Over the past 20 years, about 200 students and 25 teachers (from MASH) have been a part of our school’s exchange. 

When the exchange was started, Mechanicsburg was paired with a school in Truro, Cornwall called Richard Lander School. The two schools exchanged back and forth for 15 years.

Starting two years ago, Mechanicsburg began a new exchange with a school in Dorchester, Dorset called Thomas Hardye School. 

The England Exchange Program is where a group of ten to twelve students from MASH go over and stay with students from a British school for a week and a half. The students are hosted by families in England the week after school ends and then they host British students for a week and a half in October. 

Lots of preparation goes into the week and a half that the kids from MASH are hosting students from England. 

Anita Laudenslager, a senior on the exchange, mentioned she was preparing for her student by finding new foods for her to eat and deciding on cool places to take the student.

Group activities and trips are also organized ahead of time so that the visitors from England get to experience Pennsylvania and the United States.

While they’re here, the students from England also get to experience regular school days that every American kid goes through. They’ll sit in on classes, get tours of the building, and maybe even get to go to a few sporting/music events.

Though it is a main aspect of the trip, the exchange is about more than just seeing the school.

The exchange is about living in a foreign country as more than just a tourist; it’s about delving deep into another culture and all its aspects. 

When asked what her major takeaways of the exchange were, Anita Laudenslager answered, “Everyone is different and you can learn a lot by traveling to different parts of the world.”

This exchange allows students to be enveloped into a whole new world and culture that they may never have gotten to experience if it wasn’t for the exchange. 

The idea is to open up to incredible opportunities for MASH and Thomas Hardye students to experience and lead them to dreams and realities they may have never even considered. 

Another key part of the exchange is friendship.

When Dr. Bleggi and Trevor Coldman started this exchange 20 years, friendship was a major component. 

Like mentioned earlier, the British are here as friends, not as foes. 

This exchange has created friendships between students from both schools that have lasted for years. Former students have met best friends through this exchange. The whole point is for students from MASH to meet new people and create new relationships with people who were always seen as different.

But in reality, people from different cultures aren’t as different as they’re perceived. 

To touch on the subject, Principal Dave Harris mentioned,”This exchange is to help students see that the world is actually quite small. People really are not all that different, no matter where they live.”

Having people from another country in the school also affects all of the students that aren’t a part of the exchange. 

Having people from England in MASH opens up a new learning experience for all of the students. 

Whether it be just from saying “hi” and maybe having a five minute conversation with one of the exchange students, MASH kids get introduced to new people and a new culture.

This exchange program does more than just change the lives of the students on the exchange, it alters the lives of the whole MASD community. 

“By welcoming them into their homes, entire families benefit. Many England exchange students have traveled back to visit their host family and/or hosted their partner’s family here in Mechanicsburg,” Mr. Harris added. 

The England Exchange Program has opened a door in Mechanicsburg that leads to new parts, people, and cultures of the world. New friendships, opportunities, and experiences have come to Mechanicsburg and have traveled to England. 

This program is a core part of the school and even more so are our British friends.

If you see an exchange student roaming about the school or the community in the next week, don’t forget to say “hi” and welcome our friends from across the pond!