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It’s Another British Invasion!

In 2010, I was lucky to lead a team of 12 people to England for a Rotary Friendship Exchange. We spent two weeks in the Midlands, first in Peterborough, then in Northampton, and finally in Loughborough/Leicester.

For five nights, Alan and Margaret Bothamley hosted me, my travel partner Alison Dailey and Sam and Stella Hazel. Four strangers in their warm and welcoming home, where we devoured their food, emptied bottles of gin and partied every night, plastering everything with our colloquial American patois.

Their first question? “Are you and Alison a couple?”

Instant bonding.

Because of Life’s roadblocks, Alan and Margaret weren’t able to join the English team on their visit to South Carolina.

This week, we’re correcting Life’s mistake. Alan and Margaret are visiting Charleston through Sunday. Dividing their time between us and Alison. Meeting fellow Rotarians. Catching up with Sam and Stella and other Rotarians from our team.

Rotary Friendship Exchange is a program of cultural understanding. It encourages Rotarians to spend time with their counterparts in other countries. We hope to dispel unfair generalizations about other cultures. Like the English reserved? Bah. They’re some of the wittiest, bawdiest people I’ve ever met. Their warmth, humor and hospitality cemented friendships for two weeks. Over four years later, we still correspond with Alan and Margaret. We’re lucky that Rotary brought us together.

The featured photo is our Rotary Friendship Exchange team at Sandringham House. The Queen celebrates the Christmas holiday in the church behind us.

Have you ever made friends through a foreign exchange program?

34 Comments Post a comment
  1. how great! i’ve made friends with aussie teachers, when visiting the schools there on a trip to see my daughter, and have issued them an open invitation to visit me anytime, i’d love it –

    September 24, 2014
    • I hope you’ll write about it if anyone takes you up on it, Beth. We took Alan and Margaret to Costco today for a very American experience. Ha.

      September 24, 2014
  2. But what about the seed gnawing aristocracy?

    September 24, 2014
    • I don’t know what happened to Simon. Alan and Margaret don’t know him, so I can’t ask them.

      September 24, 2014
  3. Wow. You have had a lot of company, Andra! That’s awesome! I got to know my students in China and corresponded with some afterward.

    September 24, 2014
  4. It’s interesting to study the body language of bawdy language.

    September 24, 2014
  5. How fun! I studied in England when I was in college. I have lots of delightful memories of witty + warm people who made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t catch my breath. Enjoy your time together.

    September 24, 2014
    • Where in England did you study? If you don’t mind my asking….

      September 24, 2014
      • The University of Exeter in Devon, England. Lovely campus, friendly town. Lots of pleasant, funny girls in my dorm. And I might have learned something from my professors! A great experience all around.

        September 25, 2014
  6. No serious foreign travel for me, but I do attempt to keep communication lines open with folks I care about throughout the US; sometimes just not very well. 😦

    I am sure your English friends are having a wonderful visit, and I am a mite envious.

    September 24, 2014
    • They’re having very English weather, unfortunately. Gray and chilly in SC today.

      September 24, 2014
  7. Sadly, I have not. The closest I came was a student in an adult education writing class I took at the local community college. He had been a Rotary exchange student and, like me, was taking the class to learn more about publishing. He ended up marrying a young Hmong woman, then wrote an article on how Rotary changed his life. He was a remarkable young man and we even arranged for him to address Tom’s Rotary.

    Love the photo – and hearing about yet another busy time for you, entertaining the Brits! 🙂 You really are an ambassador for your region, Andra. Well done.

    September 24, 2014
    • I love that story, Penny. Rotary really does change so many lives.

      September 24, 2014
  8. Just for clarification to newly tuned in Readers….no, we are not a couple. Andra is coupled with MTM. 🙂

    September 24, 2014
    • I am not a newly tuned reader but I thank you for that clarification. 🙂

      September 24, 2014
    • It was funny that we had to answer that question everywhere we went.

      September 24, 2014
  9. Really looking forward to meeting Alan and Margaret.

    September 24, 2014
  10. You’re going to need a vacation after all these visits!

    September 24, 2014
    • Not in the cards for me. 🙂 But I do enjoy showing people around. It doesn’t feel like work. Kind of like vacationing in my own town.

      September 24, 2014
      • Great attitude!

        September 24, 2014
  11. Seriously though, they all wear tophats. Like, even in bed. Like…even when they’ve taken everything else off….

    September 24, 2014
  12. Wonderful exchange.

    September 24, 2014
    • If we can get it together, our next exchange is with a district in Italy. MTM told me to apply…….

      September 24, 2014
  13. tarakianwarrior #

    I admire you so much Andra.

    September 24, 2014
    • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Our door is always open. 🙂

      September 24, 2014
  14. More fun in your life!! How do you keep up with this much amusement? Enjoy! 🙂

    September 24, 2014
    • MTM and I really enjoy these cultural things, and we’re lucky to have built a real friendship with Alan and Margaret from that exchange.

      September 24, 2014
  15. Sounds like you’re cementing the “special relationship”…about time after that disgraceful “Tea Party”:)

    September 25, 2014
  16. I know you will have had a wonderful weekend, Andra.

    September 28, 2014
  17. Lance #

    When I was in college, I seem to gravitate toward and make friends with folks from other countries. It was more curiosity than anything.

    September 29, 2014

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