Cross-cultural Friendships Grow with St. Thomas More Exchange Program

posted on April 25, 2013

This week Red Cloud students strengthened bonds of friendship with their counterparts in an ongoing exchange program aimed at increasing cross-cultural understanding.

Traveling from Pine Ridge to Rapid City, Red Cloud students and their exchange partners from St. Thomas More High School took part in a redesigned school day, complete with group games, a music video shoot, ice cream and a collaborative art project. Before departing, students disassembled the collaborative art piece, featuring caricatures of each Red Cloud student and their St. Thomas More counterpart, and carried home a reminder of their experiences and friendships made.

At one time, Red Cloud and St. Thomas More students only encountered each other as rivals on the basketball court.  But four years ago, the exchange program began encouraging Red Cloud students to become pen pals with students at St. Thomas More.  Since then, the schools have held a daylong exchange event twice each year to encourage students to build and strengthen their cross-cultural friendships.  

“It is really wonderful to see the students come together,” says Sister Connie Schmidt, a Spiritual Formation Teacher at Red Cloud High School who has been involved in the program. “When they finally come together during the exchange, you don’t see rival schools or sports teams. They just all turn into kids!”

As they prepare to graduate, many Red Cloud seniors have spent their entire high school career getting to know their exchange partners at St. Thomas More. Through the program, they have created lasting friendships – and a deeper sense of what they share, despite their cultural differences – that will last long beyond their high school years.