Jolly Good Exchange for British Students

Hannah Edwards was just one of 21 British exchange students eager to experience America's sights and sounds firsthand.

Hannah says, "They said it was really fun and that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I might as well do it if I've got that chance."

And thanks to a two-week international service learning exchange program, Hannah and her friends got that chance.

Mayor John Fretti says, "Different cultures have to be acceptable to each other. We can't live on just one side of the pea patch, so the more inclusive we are, I think the better we become as people."

And for these 22 honorary citizens, learning about history and culture of Valdosta is their mission and assignment.

Rory Sadler, a British exchange student, says, "We are going to be speaking to various people across Valdosta and we are going to be doing a presentation about service learning and what that's all about."

International instructors say the students' time in Valdosta is invaluable because they aren't greeted with the typical "Disney" America stereotype.

Jane Caryer, an exchange instructor, says, "When you go there you just meet tourists, but when you come to Valdosta you meet real Americans who welcome you with the warmth and hospitality; that's terrific."

City leaders say that's the impression they hope students will capture during their stay in Valdosta.