Friends Across the Pond: British Students On Visiting SA in Eighth Annual Perse Exchange

The Perse Exchange participants enjoy a day in downtown Pittsburgh and the Strip District. Clockwise: Top: All the Perse Students and their SA partners pose in Wholey’s, a well-known fish market in the Strip. Right: Some of the students pause to rest in the once-functioning trolley car that resides in the Heinz History Center. Center: There’s no shortage of unique souvenirs to buy in the Strip! Left: The day ends where it started: under blue skies on the SA campus. (Wholey’s: Ken Goleski/Sewickley Academy All others: Helen Large/The Perse School)

Erin Mahoney, Editor-in-Chief

Embarking on an eight-hour flight and arriving bleary-eyed in the Pittsburgh airport, five students from the Perse School in Cambridge, England journeyed to experience life in America during the spring segment of the Perse Exchange.

Founded in 2011, this exchange brings four to five British students to Pittsburgh in the spring and sends the same number of SA freshmen to Cambridge, England in June. The trip is chaperoned by Ms. Helen Large, Games Teacher and Conditioning Coach at The Perse School, and SA Middle School Social Studies Teacher Ms. Kate Lukaszewicz. The visiting students live with their host families for all two weeks of each trip.

The British students attended classes with their hosts, practiced with SA sports teams, and participated in the Day of Service on April 12. In addition to exploring Sewickley and downtown Pittsburgh, the students also visited Washington, DC and Philadelphia.

As they wrapped up their time in Pittsburgh, the five British students who participated in the exchange this year reflected on their experiences. Read some of their thoughts below!


Ally White:

“I wanted to do the American Exchange for several reasons but the main one was the differences in culture. It doesn’t matter how much you look at a country though something like TV or the media, it will never be able to show you the full experience of seeing that place in person. America’s an incredibly unique country as every state tends to be different, with different customs and habits, so Pennsylvania was really just another one out of 50 ticked off. While seeing Pittsburgh, Sewickley and D.C. was really cool and I did have a lot of fun, the best part of the exchange for me was the people, especially the family I got to stay with (so here’s another thanks for them). The family I stayed with took me to a ton of places but the most memorable were the ice hockey game, which was a lot colder than I thought it would be, guess I forgot about the ice part in the name of the sport, and a magic show, from which some of the tricks are still bothering me. Overall, it was really great and a fun experience and I’m really excited for [the SA students] to come over to England.”


Charlie Stalker:

“For our day of service, we went to Life’s Choice, a place where they source jobs for people  with disabilities. We went there to redo the bulletin boards around the building and to help with the party they were throwing. Through redecorating the boards, we got to meet some of the people working there and understand how Life’s Choice can really change people’s lives. After lunch, we then helped with the party and got to meet some more of the employees. It was also a great way to finish off our time at Sewickley Academy, with a nice relaxing day to understand some of the school life outside the lessons. I also really enjoyed my time at Sewickley and seeing some of the contrasts between the two schools. I think my favourite part was trying the different sports, and how everyone made me feel welcome on the team.”


Lucy Blanning:

“During our wonderful visit to America, we managed to visit the Pittsburgh Strip District.  We went into a variety of different shops, many of which had clothing dedicated to the Penguins, Steelers and Pirates. At first, we went into a small fish market and spoke to some lovely locals. After visiting lots of shops and buying some Pittsburgh souvenirs, we went and had ice cream. It was a great trip into the centre of Pittsburgh that helped us to experience an insight into the life of a local Pittsburgher, and I would recommend it to everyone visiting the area.”


Bella Howarth:

“On Sunday 7th of April we travelled to Washington, D.C. When we arrived in D.C, we went straight to the American History museum, where we learnt a lot about the culture. After, we walked to the famous Washington food trucks. After we had demolished our tasty food, we went to the WWII memorial, whilst passing the Washington monument and the Korean War memorial. We also saw the cherry blossoms, which we are told is very rare. Finally, we went to the Lincoln memorial, where we all got pictures with Lincoln’s statue. After this, we travelled to Philadelphia to sleep the night.”


Chicko Ndumu:

“My trip to Philadelphia was so much fun. Even just travelling there was interesting as you got to see many different and new things on the way. My favourite part about the trip must have been the interactive museum we visited, as I found the talk about American independence and the ways in which you could tell if you could vote quite enlightening. I also really enjoyed the pizza we tried [in Philadelphia] and the slavery museum.”