Stu­dents ex­change reaches land­mark

The Oban Times - - Let­ters -

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.

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