The Harbinger Online

Childhood Friends Reconnected At East

It’s the last person junior Issie Engelbert thought she would see – after moving halfway across the world. It’s against the odds that that would ever happen, but it’s what happened to junior Issie Engelbert and sophomore Katharine Swindells.

Issie Engelbert was in the counseling center dropping AHAP–Engelbert loves history but didn’t have as big of an American history background and felt behind–when she looked up and saw a mom, dad and a girl walk in. Engelbert made eye contact with the girl, Katharine Swindells, but instead of looking away, she just kept staring. Swindells stared back, giving her a strange look.

Why do I recognize these people? Engelbert asked herself. Why did my head just click?

Swindells and her parents left to go speak with a counselor before either of the girls had a chance to speak. Swindells quickly asked her counselor if she knew the girl sitting outside the counselor’s office — she looked like a girl she went to primary school with. The counselor left to go see if that really was who Swindells was talking about.

“I was terrified I’d made a mistake and this would be really awkward,” said Swindells. “But then [the counselor] came back in, and with her was Issie! It was honestly one of the weirdest experiences of my life.”

Both Engelbert and Swindells are from West London, England and now live, or are in the process of moving, in Kansas. Issie used to live in Seattle, WA as a young child but moved back to the United States to live with her dad. Swindells will be moving after she finishes secondary school due to her father’s recent employment. They met in primary school (first grade to sixth grade) but went their separate ways to different schools after sixth grade.

“Everyone was really impressed by her [U.S.] accent, and we just kind of became friends,” Swindells explained. “We got especially close towards the end of primary, and when at eleven we split to go to different high schools, we promised we would stay good friends.”

However, Engelbert and Swindells lost touch.

“It was just recently that a mutual friend told me she’d moved back to America,” Swindells said. “I was upset – we’d been best friends once, now I hadn’t even known she’d left the continent.”

When Swindells came to shadow at East, she had no idea that she would run into Engelbert. While Swindells’s parents were still meeting with a counselor, Engelbert was able to give Swindells a tour and the two caught up.

“We went off to a different high schools and I hadn’t spoken to her in three years and she turns up here and I’m like wow,” Engelbert said. “It’s crazy.”

Swindells will be going to East next year as a sophomore.

“I’m pretty nervous about coming to Shawnee Mission East, and I’m sad to be leaving my friends, but I’m really excited to come somewhere new,” Swindells said. “It’s so different from my school here in England. Everyone’s really friendly in the USA, which is lovely but intimidating because I’m so used to everyone being rude to each other in London.”

“I’m excited for her and myself, cause obviously I’ll know her and help her out,” Engelbert said.

It really sometimes is, a small world.

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