Local News

Students get warm welcome

by: Sharell Lockhart, FN News Reporter

Grand Bahama's Bell Channel Inn has been proud to step into the role of Bahamian ambassador for the France-based organization Cousins, which travels to various countries around the world exposing students between the ages of 14-17 and 18-25 to diverse cultural experiences.

Lisbeth Knowles, owner of Bell Channel Inn, said she was initially taken aback by the request made by Cousins but decided to oblige the organization and ensure the 250 students along with their leaders not only enjoyed their stay but had a chance to experience the sights, sounds and culture that is Grand Bahama.

"The Cousins organization contacted me asking for a quote for 250 students and their leaders to stay at Bell Channel Inn.

"The organization explained that it specialized in traveling to various countries around the world and exposing them to the culture of each essentially broadening their view of the world.

"The students would be visiting The Bahamas for the first time and chose Grand Bahama as its island of choice.

"Also the students would be separated into 10 groups with 18-27 students and three leaders in each group arriving here week after week throughout the months of July and August.

"Initially I was surprised by this request but I researched the group and was happy to learn about them and answer their request.

"It was amazing for me to learn that so far the organization has sent approximately 4,000 students into various countries throughout Europe and they have visited the United States of America, Canada and Africa as well,"  said Knowles.

According to Knowles each group of students that have visited Bell Channel Inn so far cannot stop bragging of their time here and evidence of this can be found on the organizationâ s website http://www.cousins.travel/de-la-floride-aux-bahamas.

Students talk about the food, hospitality of the Bahamian people especially the staff of Bell Channel Inn and the wonderful experience they have had visiting the islandâ s beaches, snorkeling, trips to the Lucayan National Park and enjoying what Port Lucaya has to offer.

Most of the students spoke little to no English but this did not prove to be a setback for Knowles, who pulled out all the stops for the groups inclusive of printing out Bell Channel Innâ s Upstairs restaurant menus and guides in French and even hoisting the flag of France outside the hotel.

"The leaders told me that they truly enjoyed their time here and once they return home they will be giving a review on each country they visited and hope that Grand Bahama will be a fixture on their traveling calendar with Bell Channel Inn as their number one hotel of choice.

"I am so excited that Bell Channel Inn and staff have had the opportunity to serve as Bahamian ambassadors for Cousins and based on their feedback they are happy to serve as ambassadors of The Bahamas to France.

"We are thankful they enjoyed their time and proud to note that during their time here they have occupied 30 of our 32-room facility.

"The Cousins said they were pleased with our efforts to make their stay feel like home away from home and some of the students literally cried not wanting to return home,⠝ Knowles revealed.

One group leader Shariff said, â Each group was happy to spend four days here after initially visiting Florida.

"The experience overall has been quite wonderful and the hospitality shown to us by Ms. Knowles and her staff has been amazing.

"We have enjoyed the beauty of the island, exploring the unique culture, food, music and its history and more importantly, as an organization we are happy to provide an opportunity for students to travel to various countries and experience the cultural diversity found around the world.

"The Cousins experience provides a way for us to live together with the local people and discover different places all while enjoying ourselves and broadening our view of the world in general.

"We have had a very good welcome here at Bell Channel Inn and your countrymen are so nice hence we wish our stay was longer." 

Notably this yearâ s trip to The Bahamas for the Cousins organization has been a trial run but from the reviews made thus far and the evaluations that will be delivered to the organizationâ s board Grand Bahama may remain on the travel itinerary for next year and a strong bond will be forged between Knowles and the Bell Channel Inn and Cousins for many summers to come.

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