Canadian students enjoying the deep south - - The News for South Mississippi

Canadian students enjoying the deep south


By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - They're enjoying the warm temperatures, tasting their first grits and smiling about Southern hospitality.

College students from Nova Scotia, Canada are spending their spring break as volunteers on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. They are a fun loving, hard working group of young people.

The students from St. Francis of Xavier traded heavy snow and frigid conditions for deep south comfort.

"It's nice to be in the heat for a little while," said Katie Giacomantonio.

Getting here meant a two day bus trip: 3,455 kilometers. That's 2,147 miles.

"I hadn't been through any of those states. So, it was kind of cool to see a big chunk of America," said John Cullen, as he worked a paint roller.

As they painted buildings for Visions of Hope on Division Street, the volunteer visitors discussed differences between Americans and Canadians.

"As soon as we hit like Alabama, we started to hear the accent for sure," said a smiling Michaela George.

"Accents. Y'all. And everyone is like 'sugar' and 'darlin,'" added Kaleena Johnston, through her giggles and laughter. "It's good though. I like it," she added.

On the road trip here, they enjoyed eating in Alabama at a place quite familiar to Southerners:  Waffle House.

"The grits were unreal," said George, "They should make them in Canada for sure."

"We walked in. I went to the jukebox and started playing "Sweet Home Alabama", 'cause you had to. And we all started cracking up about it," Cullen explained, "All the people from town just kind of looked at each other like, 'Who are these kids?'"

These "kids" from north of the border are young people with big hearts and a desire to help others.

"We're all really excited to be here.  It's exactly what we want to be here doing!" said Giacomantonio.

"This is going to be cliche. But we just really wanted to come down here and help after everything we heard. One of our team members came down last year and she said it was just an amazing experience," added Alison Maunder.

"How 'bout that weather, eh??" Cullen joked, with an exceedingly thick Canadian accent.

The Habitat for Humanity volunteers will keep busy this week with numerous painting and building projects. There should also be a little down time for visiting the beach and sampling some coast cuisine.

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