Please excuse a bit of bragging in this post, but a theme is emerging during this trip that must be acknowledged. On a number of occasions through the tour, I have been sought out by people who have contact with our group to let me know how impressed they are with the calibre of our students.
At the Sportsmen's Lodge Hotel in LA, both the manager and the supervisor of catering made a point of letting me know how well-behaved our students had been. From the manager's point of view, the measure was the number of complaints that she hadn't received from the other guests. 'Not one complaint!' The catering staff wanted to commend our students on their manners and courtesy.
Jayne, our wonderful tour guide from LAX to San Francisco, made similar comments about the general conduct and manners of the students. Her observations were based on two decades of guiding students around the area; she was effusive in her affirmations of our young people.
The cafe staff who served us on our three mornings in San Francisco made the same comments, as did our San Francisco guides Frances and Joyce.
Some of this could be taken with a grain of salt (or a shovelful of it, as seems to be the case on a lot of food over here!), seen as a way of ensuring that our school feels warmly towards these service providers as a way of increasing the likelihood of repeat business. However, yesterday as we were travelling from San Francisco to Las Vegas we stopped in the late afternoon at a family run truckstop/general store/farm in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada ranges. We spent 20 minutes there for a rest break and afternoon tea; the students are excitedly trying beef jerky, roasted corn and various other culinary novelties. As I was shepherding the students back onto the buses, the manager/owner came over to tell me how struck she was by the politeness and positivity of our students, noting that it stood out by comparison to other similar-aged groups that have come through over the years. Having shared our story with her, she knew that there was no likelihood of repeat business from us, but she took the time to compliment our students anyway.
From my point of view, recognising my own bias in this matter, I am immensely proud of our young people. They are extraordinary ambassadors for their families, their school and their country.