British exchange students end U.S. sojourn with trip to D.C. Glen Burnie High School served as host for 11 days

October 27, 1995|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,SUN STAFF

They shivered in the chilly morning air yesterday in Washington as they waited outside the FBI building for their only scheduled tour of the day.

But the 47 British exchange students from Glen Burnie High School and their American escorts simply rubbed their shoulders to warm themselves and shrugged off the nippy air.

It was their last chance to squeeze in more sightseeing in the nation's capital before boarding a flight today for Britain.

The exchange students come from the Abbey School in Faversham, a town of about 30,000 people on the outskirts of Canterbury. The 11- to 17-year-olds spent 11 days in the United States, living with the families of Glen Burnie High School students.

During that time, they attended classes at Glen Burnie and took field trips to Annapolis and Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

But it was Washington that attracted them yesterday.

Dressed mostly in jeans and T-shirts, the students walked single-file into the FBI building at 10 a.m. to begin a two-hour tour.

Inside, they saw several exhibits, including cardboard cutouts of "Baby Face" Nelson, "Pretty Boy" Floyd, Al Capone and John Dillinger, gangsters who had their heydays during the Roaring Twenties and 1930s.

Their tour of the block-long building ended amid a hail of gunfire as an FBI agent fired rounds from a .357-caliber Magnum, a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol and a 9 mm submachine gun at a target sheet used for practice.

The students then headed for the Smithsonian museums. On the walk over, many said the architecture and atmosphere of Washington reminded them of London.

The students marveled at the carefree, laid-back attitude of Americans and their casual dress, particularly in school. At the Abbey, students must wear uniforms.

Before coming to the United States, said George Layzell, 15, he thought Americans "would be big and loud. But actually they're not. Everyone is so friendly here."

In England, people tend to be more reserved, he said as he and other students moved through the Museum of National History and the Air and Space Museum.

Despite such differences, the American and British students discovered a big similarity -- a love of shopping.

British students said a pair of Calvin Klein jeans that would cost them about $50 here is sold for about $100 in Britain.

Oliver Wittig, the principal at Glen Burnie High, said he hopes to send some Glen Burnie students to Britain in the spring.

"I think some good friendships have been formed and that some letters will go back and forth," said Mr. Wittig, whose family was among the hosts.

He and the principal of the Abbey exchanged letters and visits before undertaking the student exchange.

Wesley Gore, 13, from the Abbey said he enjoyed his first trip to the United States, particularly trips to the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

He said he hopes he and his family "will have a chance to come here next year."

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