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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student


Students from England visit local middle school

Batchelor Middle School in Bloomington was host to a group of students from across the Atlantic this past week.

Eleven students and two teachers from Bourne Community College in Southbourne, England, spent the last week with students from Batchelor, learning about the United States from inside and outside the classroom.

The students came over as part of an ongoing exchange program with Batchelor’s Video Production teacher Jeffrey Rudkin.

“It’s not really a true exchange,” Rudkin said. “It started four years ago with a grant from IU for a union between English and U.S. schools. It started with blogging and Skyping.”

The grant ran out, but the classes stayed connected. They Skyped once a week, maintaining the connection.

“The ultimate goal was to swap students,” Rudkin said.

So in June, Rudkin and 10 students went over to England.

They accompanied their English counterparts to class, toured London and participated in various activities.

In October, it was England’s turn.

“It’s more like an extended class field trip,” Rudkin said.

Batchelor Principal Eric Gilpin said the 11 students stayed with host families from Rudkin’s class. 

They spent the week getting a feel for American life, in school and around the area.

“The students have looked forward to trick-or-treating, though unfortunately it doesn’t look like we can do that,” Gilpin said. “The other thing they all wanted to do is see Walmart.”

The students’ arrival Oct. 26 was marked with a cookout and pumpkin carving. They took a trip to Indianapolis, played laser tag, learned American football and ate at Mother Bear’s Pizza.

Rudkin said the goal of the program is to teach students about different cultures.

 “We wanted to show them what being a kid in a different place was like, to teach respect and understanding,” he said.

The students helped Rudkin’s class with their Batchelor television project.
Rudkin’s class has made documentaries and various multimedia projects, and the English students have helped co-produce them.

“The kids helped produce our weekly BTV broadcast on Friday,” he said. “They’re looking into starting a film class like ours at their school.”

Gilpin said Batchelor is already looking to expand the program.

“We are already looking to do this again with them in two years,” Gilpin said. “We also might try it with a new school we are Skyping in New Zealand.”

Rudkin said the communication possibilities are amazing.

“What was really cool was we had our first Skype on Tuesday with New Zealand,” he said. “The students from England were there, too, so we had three different countries communicating all at once.”

Follow reporter Stephen Kroll on Twitter @stephenkroll1.

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