Students from the Business and Public Services departments at Rotherham College embarked on a voyage to France to visit Rotherham’s twinned town of St. Quentin.
Both staff and students from Rotherham College received a warm welcome from their counterparts in the twinned town in the form of a red carpet welcome with gifts and food. Tutors and staff from Saint Jean et La Croix College had stayed back late in to the evening to make sure that everyone felt welcomed.
Lisa Evison, lecturer in Business, said “I’m completely lost for words. We were treated like celebrities. We all felt very special and everyone was very warm and welcoming. It was an experience that will stay with me forever.”
During the visit it was Armistice week. Rotherham College lead a small parade with a band through the town visiting the monuments with dignitaries such as King Albert of Belgium, MPs, the Mayor etc. A small church with a memorial listing fallen soldiers was last on the parade and the students were given the opportunity to lay a wreath from the College and Rotherham. They were also given the chance to put crosses on the graves of soldiers who were from the Yorkshire region or for other reasons.
The students were on a mission to find the grave of a fallen soldier from Rotherham but due to time constraints it wasn’t possible to fulfil the search but at the town hall, the students mentioned Arthur Harrison from Gerard Road in Rotherham and explained the relevance of him to the College and that he was from the Yorkshire Regiment.
Roger Williams, lecturer in Public Services, who helped coordinate the residential, said “The trip couldn’t have gone better. It was lovely. The students were incredibly well behaved and gave a great impression of Rotherham College”.
Business student, Martha Gregory presented the Mayor of St.Quentin with a watercolour painting of Chapels Bridge in Rotherham. He also kept an atlas that was created by the Public Services students that showed the diversity of the soldiers that fought in WWI and where the casualties came from.
Sikander Jabar, 19, one of the Public Services students that took part in the visit said: “I’ve gained a huge insight into French people. They’re very polite. We got to check out artistic things and I enjoyed going and seeing the sights. I’ve made loads of friends, both in France and at the College on the Business course. The trip will stay with me for the rest of my life. If there is the opportunity to I’ll definitely go back.”
Sadly a number of the students that were befriended during the visit have been directly affected by the tragedy that took part in Paris. All those who participated in the visit have a new level of respect and greater sympathy for all those who are experiencing loss at this time.
Apart from a small bump in the road in the form of a puncture, the visit was such a success that more are planned for the future. Rotherham College staff and students have been invited back to the town to take part in celebrations of the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. Invitations have also been sent the Her Royal Highness, The Queen, and other dignitaries from all over the world.
Rotherham College has reciprocated the invitation by asking if staff and students from the college in St. Quentin would like to come and visit South Yorkshire. A budding relationship is now flourishing throughout both colleges.