Shayna Grammer, a Moffat County High School senior, understands one reason why many have never heard of the Isle of Man.
She said the small country in the middle of the Irish Sea doesn’t always appear on maps.
“(A classroom at MCHS) has a big wall with a map on it,” said Shayna, 17. “(I looked at the map) and I said, ‘There’s a country that’s missing.’ So, I actually wrote (Isle of Man) on the map.”
Last year, Shayna and her sister, Larissa Grammer, stayed on the Isle of Man as exchange students. This year, the Grammer sisters returned the favor for their former host family.
For three weeks in late August and early September, the Grammers hosted Isle of Man natives Katy Radcliffe and her mother, Cathy Radcliffe.
While staying in Moffat County, Katy, 15, attended MCHS for two weeks.
The friendship between the Grammers and Radcliffes began two years ago when it was announced that Katy and Larissa — who had never met — were to be honored at an event in Washington, D.C.
“We both got nominated for the People-to-People World Leadership Forum,” Katy said.
According to the People-to-People website, the organization “offers extraordinary, life-changing educational travel opportunities for students, athletes, educators, and professionals.”
Before the Washington, D.C. forum, Larissa and Katy found each other through the People-to-People website and began corresponding through e-mail.
“We’d become really close,” said Katy of the days leading up to the forum. “Then we roomed together in D.C.”
The Grammer and Radcliffe families also hit it off. Soon, the Grammer sisters and their mother, Ceresa, flew to the Isle of Man for a visit.
The island is located in the middle of the Irish Sea, about 83 miles from Liverpool, England, and 90 miles from Belfast, Northern Ireland. It’s a country roughly 32.5 miles long and 13.5 miles wide, and the population is under 80,000.
“We are part of the British Isles, but we’re an independent country so we’re not ruled by the Queen of England,” Katy said. “We’ve got the longest-running continuous parliament in the world. It’s been going on for 1,000 years, and was set up by the Vikings.”
After their visit abroad, the Grammers invited the Radcliffes to Craig. The Radcliffes, who arrived in late August, spoke of their experiences Tuesday.
“We’ve come to America lots of times, but always as tourists,” Cathy Radcliffe said.
Staying with a family in Craig has been different from a typical travel experience, she said.
“It’s just so much better because you really get to experience and feel and be part of (America),” Cathy said.
Katy said her experiences at MCHS were eerily familiar.
“(MCHS) is a lot like what I’ve seen on (TV) programs that I’ve watched at home,” Katy said. “I was really excited to see the chairs attached to the desks. I was like, ‘Whoa.’
“I actually took a picture of (a desk) today and the teacher thought I was crazy.”
Katy said that she, too, was an object of curiosity at the school.
“People want me to speak all the time just so they can hear my (British) accent,” Katy said. “It’s fun.”
“We definitely don’t speak the same language,” said Larissa, 15, a sophomore at MCHS.
The Radcliffes left Friday for home.
Cathy said spoke highly of her Craig hosts.
“(The Grammers) have just been brilliant,” she said. “We’re just really good friends. And they’ll be back (to the Isle of Man) hopefully within a year or two.”