International bridges are being built one at a time here in Kamloops, but not by the people you might suspect.
It wasn’t through some heady gathering of elite minds at the university, a convention of some sort or sister city twinnings, these relationships bloomed from kids hanging out with other kids.
For the second year in a row, 182 students came here from Indonesia as part of an international education program at TRU. That’s nearly double the 100 who came on the inaugural visit last year and spoke of the friendliness of locals, helpfulness of bus drivers, feeling of safety, lack of pollution and wide-open spaces.
One of the students last year noted he’d never been anywhere where mountains, rivers and green hills could be seen anywhere in town, having grown up amid the skyscrapers of Jakarta.
These international visitors — who were in grades 7 and 10 — spent four days shadowing local students at South Kamloops secondary, Beattie School of the Arts, Sahali elementary and Valleyview secondary.
Before their wrap-up concert Thursday at the Sagebrush Theatre, where they performed a payung dance with traditional Indonesian instruments for the public, the visitors told The Daily News how surprised they were by the welcome they received.
As teenagers, especially ones so different from those here, they feared being ostracized, but that didn’t happen.
They said the local students were so gracious, no one was “too cool” and the emotional bonds that grew were a surprise.
How wonderful these visitors were so readily accepted; our youths just being themselves, not thinking of the larger role they played in acting as ambassadors for Kamloops, B.C. and Canada.
At the same time, there have been two reports this week about teen bush parties with some problems. At one, an 18-year-old girl was struck on the head by a group of other girls. At the other, a 17-year-old girl was seriously hurt when she was run over by a pickup truck.
When incidents like the bush parties go awry, it’s easy to cast a negative eye toward teens, but these were isolated incidents. It’s important to keep in mind that most teens are good kids, like those reaching out to their Indonesian peers, who are making a positive difference in our community.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.