- Associated Press - Saturday, April 19, 2014

PENDLETON, S.C. (AP) - A class full of fourth-graders at LaFrance Elementary School let out a collective “Wow” when David Gray told them that if they asked for “chips” in Scotland, they would receive an order of french fries instead of potato chips.

Without letting up, the students grilled Gray and Peggy Maclennan with questions about their homeland, Scotland.

“Is your school in a castle or a school like this?” one girl asked.

“What does Scotland look like?” one boy asked.

“Do you play football in Scotland?” another boy asked.

Gray and Maclennan attended to each query. Yes, they have had, at one time, a school in a castle in Stornoway, Scotland, Maclennan said. Yes, they play “real football” in Scotland, Gray said, laughing a little. “You call it soccer over here.”

And well, what does Scotland look like? “It is beautiful,” Maclennan said. “There are mountains and beautiful beaches.” Gray added, “We live in a little village, but we have big cities in Scotland as well.”

For 30 minutes, the class fired away with questions. All the while, Gray and Maclennan wore smiles - clearly happy to have the chance to answer the queries.

They were happy to be here because for them, it is a return trip. Like a homecoming.

“It is wonderful, being able to come back,” Gray said.

Fifteen years ago, he was here when he was an 17-year-old high school student. And, 17 years ago, Maclennan was here, also as a high school student.

They are among the hundreds of students who have learned about South Carolina and Scotland by traveling to the countries through the Sister Cities program in which Pendleton and Stornoway, Scotland, participate.

Both of them heard of the program through their schools.

At first, Maclennan said she was a bit nervous about coming to America and staying with someone she’d never met. So she agreed to host an American student, one from Pendleton, first.

News of such a trip was a big deal in their school, both of them recalled.

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