South GA school continues foreign exchange tradition

The City of Valdosta awards foreign exchange students with honorary citizenship.
The City of Valdosta awards foreign exchange students with honorary citizenship.
Published: Jan. 24, 2019 at 3:54 AM EST
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VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - South Georgia is home to one of the longest running foreign exchange programs in the country, according to Valdosta City School officials.

They shared that Valdosta Middle School and Colne Community School in England have continued their Academic Service Learning Program for over two decades.

“My brother did it eight years ago. My other brother did it like five years ago. They always bragged to me like ‘it’s probably not going to be a thing when you’re around so ha-ha we got to do it’ and I told them last year that I was doing it," said Charlie Wilson, Valdosta Middle School Student.

Wilson is just one of the 16 Valdosta Middle School students, hosting their own partner student from Colne Community School in England for the next few days.

He says that he was a little apprehensive in the beginning.

“At first, I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t want to go to England but now I’m here, I’m having such a great time," said Wilson.

He’s not the only one. Their school has their own Charlie—Charlie Bloom—who says he was a little worried himself.

“Yeah, it’s scary as well though a little bit. I’ve never been this far away before from parents but it’s good. I like it a lot," said Charlie Bloom, Colne Community School Student in England.

Both Charlies said they have become like brothers with their foreign exchange friends.

“Oh, its amazing. You make so many new friends. You make loads of friends—people that you don’t hang out with in school, their partners—its brilliant. You really meet a load of people," said Bloom.

Charlie Wilson says they have participated in a lot of fun activities while being here, but none of them compare to him being able to get back at his brother.

“Every night, me and my partner go into my brother’s room and mess with him and stuff like that," said Wilson.

Charlie Bloom says that besides the love he’s gained for his partner since being here, he’s found another piece of America that he really loves.

“My ideal place to eat—barbecued foods, barbecue sauce—love it. It’s brilliant. You don’t get it as much over at home but its brilliant here," said Bloom.

Valdosta Middle School students will be visiting and staying with them in June.

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