If you’ve overheard some British accents around Fishers lately, it may have been from the town’s overseas guests (or local impersonators)!
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A delegation of six – two teachers, two students and two basketball coaches – from Fishers’ Sister City of Billericay, England, have been taking in American culture (as well as the Hoosier capitol’s most famous sights, like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) during their four-day stay (Dec. 9-13).
I caught up with them Tuesday at Hamilton Southeastern High School, where the foreign students and teachers were answering questions about their schools back in England. One of the big differences, it seems, is in the emphasis we place on athletics.
The Billericay delegation included a physical education teacher, Miss Briony Pidgen, who was stunned by the amount of space HSE has for athletic fields and gymnasiums. In England, there are no spectators watching games. They don’t even have bleachers in their gym or natatorium!
“After looking around your school, our sports facility is nothing to brag about,” said Ryan Kudyk, who gave a presentation on Billericay School’s athletic programs.
Pidgen was also amazed to learn that coaches here often come from outside organizations and don’t necessarily teach PE or perform other administrative roles as she does in Billericay.
“I drive the bus, coach the kids, ref the game and drive home,” she said, adding that she also must teach lessons, coach and administrate all sports for girls at her school.
Incidentally, there are also a few differences in terminology that one should be aware of before traveling abroad. This was a lesson learned the hard way for Mr. James Smalley, assistant head teacher at Mayflower School (Billericay’s other “secondary” school).
Hoping to bring home a souvenir jersey for his kids, Smalley innocently asked a waitress at Texas Roadhouse: “Where can I get a basketball strip?” Her face flushed red as someone else at the table explained that “strip” means “jersey” in England!
Terry Johnson, a founding member of the Sister Cities Association of Fishers, has seen the relationship between Fishers and Billericay grow from a dream to a full-fledged, annual exchange program of students and teachers from each school. A delegation from Fishers visited Billericay last June. The exchanges are completely funded by the Sister Cities Association and its annual Renaissance Faire — which drew nearly 15,000 people to Fishers this year.
Now Johnson would like to see the Sister Cities relationship produce a friendly athletic rivalry.
“I would really like to see an annual exchange of athletes from the schools to participate in basketball and soccer, which is their ‘football,’” Johnson said. “I would love to build some kind of a rival sports program that would really excite the people of Fishers and of Billericay.”
Although he admits Billericay “doesn’t play a very good game of basketball,” the British town is working toward that goal. The two visiting coaches are planning to grow an elite basketball academy in Billericay. They also have ties to the 2012 Olympic Games, and Johnson would love to give some Fishers students the opportunity to be there!
For more information on the Sister Cities relationship, visit www.sistercitiesoffishers.org.
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HSE student tries to imitate British accent.
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Billericay student tries out American accent.
HSE’s Diane Douglass with Billericay teachers Briony Pidgen and James Smalley, along with Sister Cities Association founding member Terry Johnson.
Middle: The Billericay delegation: James Smalley, Briony Pidgen, Adam Taylor, Laura Stark, Katie Churchill and Ryan Kudyk.