During September, there was a major trip for 13 Pendleton, South Carolina students – across the Atlantic and on to Lewis.

The trip, which is looked forward to by many Nicolson pupils and the local community alike, took place from September 15-20, part of a series of exchanges which have place since the early 1990s.

The South Carolinian flag was raised outside of the Council Building in Stornoway, as will the Western Isles flag be raised in Pendleton when 24 pupils of The Nicolson Institute depart across the Atlantic next Easter.

When the American students arrived at Stornoway Ferry Terminal two Nicolson students piped them in. The next day, they had a bus tour of Harris, which included a tour of the distillery and a visit to St Clements Church.

The following week was spent doing various activities; a tour of the Gearranan Black Houses, the Carloway mill, and the Callanish Stones – as well as spending time with their hosts.

Hadley Smith, one of the students from Pendleton, came to the Islands for the first time through the exchange and said; “I like [Lewis] a lot.”

“There is a lot of rich and different culture. It was absolutely gorgeous!”

On biggest differences between the United States and Lewis Smith says; “Language! For sure. Y’all use so many different words to us, like things we say you have different words for.”

“The food was different, the types of food. In South Carolina, we eat lots of Mexican food, and I didn’t see any while in Scotland.”

Hadley spoke about her time in Sgoil nan Loch, meeting local school children who sang Gaelic songs and danced for the Americans. The visitors were impressed by the children’s confidence, with the primary school pupils asking questions on their own accord, such as asking Smith to compare Pendleton with Lochs.

Miss Macdonald, a Tech teacher in The Nicolson Institute who organises the exchange, spoke on fundraising efforts: “We are hoping to run some bag packing events, potentially more Soup and Puddings and we normally host a bingo night which has proven to be very popular, we are aiming to host this in Feb-March 2018.”

On events Nicolson students will partake in when they visit America, Miss Macdonald said, “[We do] some traditional Scottish Dancing, Highland Dancing, Gaelic singing and some Scottish songs.”

“We visit Elementary and Middle schools, as well as spend time with our hosts and spend time in the High School and experience their school life and as we often do see how it differs from school life in Scotland.”

“This year’s group will also be spending a few days in Atlanta before heading on the two-hour drive to Pendleton, and are likely to visit some notable places such as the Martin Luther King museum and the Coca-Cola factory”.

As part of the exchange cultural gaps are bridged and knowledge is gained on foreign ideals and lifestyles, with many Carolinians learning some Gaelic, local history and more about the Islands and many Islanders learning about how much life differs in America, while taking in their various cultures and ideals.

(This article was initiated and created by John Macrae, a pupil of The Nicolson Institute who is completing a work-experience week with welovestornoway.com and EVENTS newspaper. Welovestornoway.com and EVENTS welcome the chance to carry more news about the school, the Pendelton Exchange and other school events.)