Visit to New Jersey by Dumfries & Galloway students

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, International Education, video conferencing | Posted on April 14, 2011

Last week students in Northern Valley Schools, New Jersey welcomed 23 students and 3 staff from Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. Families of students in Demarest and Old Tappan schools kindly hosted young people from Castle Douglas and Lockerbie for the week of 2-9 April. This was our reciprocal visit to the USA following the American students’ visit to Dumfries & Galloway in April 2010.

After a 22 hour delay due to a fault in the aircraft and an unexpected overnight stay in Edinburgh, our visit started at Newark Liberty International Airport on Sunday 3rd April. It was a very pleasant surprise to be met by a Northern Valley welcoming party greeting us warmly at the airport. Here goes with a whistle-stop guide to the week’s events.

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Sunday

From Liberty Airport we went to Demarest High School to meet our host families. From there, everyone dispersed to spend the day in a variety of ways. Our staff group, Karen McCutcheon, Fiona Cameron and myself headed off with the American group leader April Vella to the Yankee Stadium for the baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers. A beautiful sunny afternoon enhanced an exciting afternoon for us for our first ever baseball game. Later that afternoon we headed for our hosts Claudia and Evan Coopers’ home in Emerson, New Jersey. They recently moved into their new house and we enjoyed meeting a variety of friends that evening and had a superb meal prepared by Claudia.

The Coopers' new house  -  our home for the week!

The Coopers' new house - our home for the week!

Monday

At the top of the Rockefeller Center

At the top of the Rockefeller Center

Today we all meet up at Demarest at 7.15am and take a private coach to New York City. Highlight of the day is our visit to the top of the Rockefeller Center and a fantastic view over the city. Our group enjoy lunch at ‘Pop Burger’, a visit to Dylan’s Candy Store and a visit to the American Museum of National History. The Planetarium presentation narrated by Whoopi Goldberg is spectacular. Dinner tonight at Maggianno’s.

Northern Valley and Dumfries & Galloway students at the Rockefeller Center

Northern Valley and Dumfries & Galloway students at the Rockefeller Center

Tuesday

Dumfries & Galloway students spend a day experiencing the American High School curriculum as they follow their hosts from class to class. I’m invited to attend a video conference masterclass at the Manhattan School of Music. In the evening we all meet up at Old Tappan High School for a formal reception.


Blue skies at the Brooklyn Bridge

Blue skies at the Brooklyn Bridge

Wednesday

A lovely morning as we head for New York. A beautiful walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is followed by a tour of lower Manhattan and a visit to the Museum of the American Indian. Lunch at Fraunces Tavern and then on to a very big hit with all our students – Blue Man Group.

A Blue man meets the fans after the show

A Blue man meets the fans after the show

This zany show is enjoyed by all, including myself even if pureed banana is shooting out at us in the audience. Following the show, we made our way to the bright lights of Times Square for shopping before our evening meal at the excellent Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory.

On the Hoboken tour, a demonstration of how to make Mozarella

On the Hoboken tour, a demonstration of how to make Mozarella

Shopping in Times Square!

Shopping in Times Square!

Thursday

This morning we head into New York and go to the Metrapolitan Museum of Art. This massive museum houses a huge range of amazing artefacts. Currently on display at the ‘Guitar Heroes’ exhibition is a guitar made by the master violin maker Antonio Stradivari, made around 1700.

In the afternoon we go on a tour around Hoboken, famous for holding the first ever baseball game in 1846, and the birthplace of Frank Sinatra. Students have dinner with host families. Our staff group enjoy an excellent meal and lovely evening with April, Evan and Claudia at Rob and Lesley’s house.

Friday

Dumfries & Galloway students involved today with American students on the Project Adventure course. This evening we all go to Chelsea Piers in New York to board ‘The Spirit of New York’ for dinner and a cruise. This is an excellent evening with spectacular views of the city and the Statue of Liberty.

Saturday

Another beautiful morning. Students with families. Evan and I go for a walk up to the local elementary school and watch youngsters taking part in baseball activities. In the afternoon we all meet up for a farewell time at Demarest. Coffee, cookies, speeches and a few tears then head off for Liberty Airport. We’ve had an unforgettable week.

Visit to Dumfries & Galloway by New Jersey students

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Featured | Posted on April 22, 2010

IMG_6641Last week, students in Dumfries & Galloway schools welcomed 23 students and 4 staff from Northern Valley, New Jersey, USA. Families in Castle Douglas & Lockerbie really enjoyed hosting young people from New Jersey over the past 10 days. A reciprocal visit to the USA will take place next year. We can’t wait!

The visit started at Glasgow airport on Sunday 11th April. Bumped into (not literally!) Michael Russell (Scottish Secretary for Education) at the airport and shared with him our itinerary for the week. He’d been on the flight from New York with our American guests! So here goes with a whistle-stop guide to the week’s events.

Sunday

From Glasgow Airport we headed down the Ayrshire coast in the sunshine to Culzean Country Park and a tour of the Castle, followed by lunch. Then on to Turnberry where last year’s British Open Golf Championship took place. All the party were warmly welcomed into the Turnberry Clubhouse. Depart for a short visit to Robert Burns’ birthplace and Brig o’ Doon.

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Monday

Mull of Galloway lighthouseAmerican students attend Castle Douglas High School and Lockerbie Academy. Chaperones have a tour of Dumfries & Galloway. We visit Cream o’ Galloway (ice cream tasting!), Mull of Galloway lighthouse and Logan Gardens. In the evening, parents, staff and students all meet up at a civic reception in the Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries.

New Jersey staff at Logan GardensCivic Reception at the Easterbrook Hall

Tuesday

Outdoor Education staff in Castle Douglas provided opportunities for our visiting American students to take part in kayaking on Carlingwark Loch and mountain biking at Dalbeattie Forest.

Mountain biking in Dalbeattie Forest

Mountain biking in Dalbeattie Forest

Kayaking on Carlingwark Loch

Kayaking on Carlingwark Loch

Wednesday

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

An early start for New Jersey and Lockerbie students as we head for Edinburgh. A tour of the Castle is followed by an opportunity for shopping on the Royal Mile. In the afternoon we visit the Playhouse Theatre for the show ‘Laughter in the Rain’, the story of Neil Sedaka, complete with references to New Jersey to make our guests feel at home! After the show we enjoy a meal in an Italian restaurant.

Thursday

Another early start (7.15am!) with Castle Douglas and USA students as we head north for Loch Lomond. A visit to Luss on the banks of Loch Lomond is followed by a drive via the ‘Rest and Be Thankful’ behind a very slow heavy load vehicle with police escort. Plenty time to enjoy the view and hear about the old military road built in 1753(!).

Enjoying the sunshine in Inverary

Enjoying the sunshine in Inverary

On to Inverary for lunch outside at picnic tables in the sunshine. A tour of the Castle (another one!) is followed by a fun visit to Inverary Jail.

The Court at Inverary Jail

The Court at Inverary Jail

Back to Glasgow for a Chinese meal and a game of 10 pin bowling.

Friday

American students in Lockerbie this morning with Graham Herbert (Head Teacher) and then in Dumfries in the afternoon to learn more about Robert Burns. An opportunity for shopping in Dumfries ahead of this evening’s farewell dinner for all.

Saturday – Tuesday

The flight home planned for Saturday morning is cancelled due to volcanic ash cloud concerns. Dumfries & Galloway families in and around Castle Douglas and Lockerbie come to the rescue with further hosting offers and all students continue to enjoy an extended stay. All students at school on Monday and Tuesday. New Jersey group depart from Dumfries at 11.00pm on Tuesday evening and head for Heathrow.

Eyjafjallajökull Volcano

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration | Posted on April 21, 2010

envisat satellite

Nobody (apart from a couple of Icelandic Vulcanologists) anticipated the possibility of Eyjafjallajökull causing such disruption to the lives of people across the globe. Five days after planning to leave, our school group visitors from New Jersey are at this moment waiting in Heathrow to return home. Families in Dumfries & Galloway (in and around Castle Douglas and Lockerbie) have been fantastic in hosting our USA guests, not only for the week they planned to be here, but for the unexpected extended stay since last Saturday. Thanks to all families for your kind support. We’re looking forward already to our visit to New Jersey next year.

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