Students exchange reaches landmark
Sir, Just over 26 years ago a small delegation from Laurinburg, North Carolina, met some Oban leaders at the Rowantree Hotel on George Street.
We jointly signed a hastily drawn, but thoughtfully-worded, agreement to begin co-operating for the betterment of both communities.
To our chagrin, no-one really had a clue what we were doing.
The editor of our local newspaper and I were rooming together, and sitting in our room that evening we tossed out ideas about where this agreement was going.
As a summer-long exchange student in 1968 studying in Mexico with two other classmates, the idea to establish some sort of student exchange programme quickly became the prime goal. The idea was shared with former head teacher Brian Mitchell, who in turn asked former Oban High School teacher Tom Laurenson to take control on the left side of the pond.
The first exchange started small, with one student and one teacher from our Scotland High School visiting for a week in October, and two students – Nicola Meekin and Lisa MacKinnon (McNeill) – visiting for almost a fortnight in April.
On Saturday June 17, a celebration recognising the 25th annual exchange will be held in Oban. Many former student participants will be there from both sides of the pond.
I truly hate to miss it, but family illnesses are keeping us confined close to home, but one of the greatest honours is know that folks in Oban now understand and even speak ‘y’all’, and folks in Laurinburg and Scotland County are now having ceilidhs.
Best wishes to all of my friends and former exchange students. You have established and continued long-binding friendships at a time when every country on earth needs to starts build bridges of friendships rather than walls. Beacham McDougald, Laurinburg, North Carolina.