Snow can’t stall cultural exchange

Published 7:50 pm Monday, February 23, 2015

The past week’s dismal weather, which won’t improve all that much this week, was inconvenient for most of us.

Lost productivity, driveway shoveling and finding ways to entertain children who otherwise would have been in school are the kinds of things we all had to put up with.

But for some other Suffolkians — ones from Suffolk County, England — the snow and ice meddled with plans on a whole different level.

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A delegation of mostly high school students traveled here for an international adventure under the Sister Cities International program.

With the Bury St. Edmunds Upper County School Swing Band, they had hoped to spend the week performing and rehearsing at Suffolk’s schools, touring the area’s attractions and getting to know their sister city a little better.

But they ended up spending a lot more time with their host families, which, as Suffolk Sister Cities President Maryanne Persons commented, still allowed for cultural exchange.

“I would say it’s not a total loss, because it’s a cultural exchange, and that goes on whether or not we are sightseeing. We are about getting people together, and instead of getting together in a museum or somewhere else, they are getting together in people’s homes,” Persons told me last week.

The highlight of the trip was to be Monday night’s joint concert with talented local student musicians at Nansemond River High School. Judging from one thing on the students’ itinerary that was salvaged and that I was able to poke my head in at for a few minutes on Thursday — a work session with Hampton Roads jazz legend Jae Sinnett — folks who attended are likely still to be tapping their feet this morning.

England, of course, is not known for exemplary weather. And the English, of course, are known for getting on with things and doing their darnedest to make the most of them if they start to go wrong.

For those reasons, I’m thinking the Brits would have been less let down than one might fear. The Old Dominion didn’t exactly turn on its charms to the fullest extent, but it also gave the students an authentic taste of how the weather here can also cause issues for the most carefully laid plans.

Although a fair amount of sightseeing had to be canceled, I agree with Persons that the objective of the trip was not also a casualty.

Far from it, in fact. Those conversations around the dinner table between the English and their hosts would have been all the richer.