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American students explore Celtic connections

17 February 2012

History and science lecturers at Glyndŵr University have helped a group of American students explore their Celtic connections - including trying their hand at bell ringing in a Wrexham church.

The lecturers played host to the students, from Maryville College in Tennessee, for a week-long study trip.

During their stay the students visited key historical locations, including Dolwyddelan and Caernarfon, and also had a go at bell-ringing in Wrexham’s historic parish church.

The students were led by Professor Lori Schmied and Professor Paul Threadgill. Both have visited Wrexham before as part of exchange links between Glyndŵr University and Maryville College which stretch back to the 1990s.

The pair said they were impressed with the area and were delighted with the warm reception when they arrived. 

Professor Schmied said: “The purpose of the visit is to draw on connections between Appalachia and the Celtic regions of Britain as many of the immigrants who came to the Appalachia from Wales had mining backgrounds and a strong sense of Welsh identity”. 

Professor Threadgill was also able to use the visit to draw upon comparisons between Snowdonia National Park and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in southern Appalachia. 

Dr Kathryn Ellis, senior lecturer in history at Glyndŵr University, also got the opportunity to talk at length with the students, including Lesley Owle, who is ambassador for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. 

Lesley was brought up on a reservation in South Carolina and her father is currently the Historian Elder of the tribe.

Lesley is researching cultural survivalism and Dr Ellis was delighted to have the opportunity to discuss this in the context of Welsh history and language. 

She said: “It was fascinating to speak to Lesley and to discover how the history of her nation is so similar to that of Wales.”.

The group will finish their tour with a visit to Ireland before returning home for the new semester.

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