EVEN though we havent had quite as many sunny days as we would like, there is another way I normally check that summer is upon us – by checking the Herald letters page for complaints about our student visitors!
I’ve been keenly reading these letters for the last five years with a vested interest; I work for these students organisations and work with these student visitors.
Although I read the letters, I normally ignore them, but this time I feel compelled to reply to Mr Poole (Friday July 8) and make a rather robust defence of our student organisations and schools, and counter the faintly ridiculous notion that Jurgen Matthes should be ‘fined’ and leave our town!
The notion that Jurgen, and the other student organisations, bring no benefit to our town is a ridiculous one, and here are a few reasons why!
I’ve actually just finished a teaching group with one student organisation, and was one of 26 teachers employed to work with these students.
This wasn’t one of the biggest student groups, I’ll work with bigger groups this summer, and it is very common that three or four groups may run consecutively, employing well in excess of 100 teaching staff with one student company, from all walks of life but with one thing in common.
We all come from Eastbourne.The employment student organisations offer us is vital, and of considerable value to the town.
Of course, it isn’t just the teaching staff who benefit, because every one of these students, (and I think there are several thousand each season) enjoy a homestay with local host families.
Other local businesses benefit, too, not just McDonalds. The town centre cinema welcomes thousands of students through their doors each year, students frequently buy souvenirs in local stores, and buy clothes in the locally managed chain stores.
Eastbourne Buses benefit too, they sell thousands of bus passes to the student organisations and local coach companies profit from it too, with local drivers earning money for local companies.
Jurgen Matthes, and others who are actively involved in business of this nature do far more for this town than many of the ‘back slapping, give themselves awards, business types’ who often feature in this paper. Rather than imposing a fine, we should be painting Eastbourne Pier yellow as a way of saying thank you!
A final thing I should mention is the students themselves. Ive worked around the world teaching English, and the German teenagers are as polite and hard working as any!
They have a long briefing at a welcome meeting learning customs and culture but of course they can be excitable when in groups. Don’t forget they are children and they come for a holiday as well as to study.
As some of us know, they enjoy Eastbourne so much, they return year after year after year occasionally fostering friendships with teachers and host families that last a lifetime.
Of course, they don’t read this newspaper’s letter page and so normally leave here with a great impression of Eastbourne, and its people.
Finally, and through the pages of this paper, I would like to invite Mr Poole to contact me and arrange to visit and observe one of my classes during this summer.
He would receive a warm welcome from my students and might be surprised to see how nice they are and how hardworking they are!