SIR John Gleed School in Spalding has made UK history by being the only school to have an exchange link with Albania.
Last September the school hosted a visit from 33 Albanian students and their teachers.
Over Easter 12 Spalding students accompanied by staff paid a return visit and enjoyed a host of adventures, including travelling up the Llogara Pass to Llogara National Park, which is higher than Ben Nevis, visiting the world heritage sites of Butrint and Gjyrokastra and travelling on a lagoon car ferry that featured on BBC 2’s Top Gear.
Mandy North, deputy headteacher at the boys’ campus, said: “We are the only school in the UK that has an exchange link with Albania, and it has been a privilege to work so closely with the Saranda community.
“Albania is a stunningly beautiful country with an incredibly hospitable people and our students have gained a great deal from their travels and the friendships they have made.
“We hope to extend this project further by linking with a third European country – possibly a school in Sweden, which has recently contacted the Albanian group leader, Aferdita Premti, with a view to setting up another exchange.”
Many students from both communities are keeping in touch via email and on Facebook and it is hoped there will be more exchange visits later this year.
Gleed pupils Daniel Rogus and Oskar Satkiewicz, (both 16), said how much they enjoyed the hospitality and food.
Daniel said: “It was really good – lots of meat with salads, dips and homemade chips. It was also great to meet up with the students again and everyone we met was so friendly and generous.”
Pupil James Emmett Laing (15) was interviewed on TV and said: “I told the interviewer how I found Albania amazing and very beautiful and how friendly the people were.
“I was also pleased I was wearing my Albanian T-shirt that day.”
The TV interviews took place at a reception where Ms North was presented with a certificate by the local prefect – a communuity overseer – to recognise the work she had done in bringing the two communities together.