Romance blooms

Monday, April 3, 2006

Martin Coleman and Lisa (Virdin) ColemanMany British studies alumni met their future spouses while studying in England. SCSU mass communications major Brittney Buttweiler from St. Cloud tells how her parents met and became friends during the University's British Studies Program in London in 1978-79. John '80 and Michelle (Kot) Buttweiler '83 were engaged two months after they returned home, "and the rest is history," said Brittney, whose name is homage to the place where her parents fell in love. The couple plans a trip back this fall while their daughter will be enjoying her own Alnwick experience.

Jeff Halberg '93, Winona, who met his wife Jennifer while the two were at Alnwick, has gone back seven times and plans another visit with Jennifer and their two sons this June. "... I wouldn't be surprised if we retired there one day," said Jeff, whose parents, SCSU emeriti Laurie and Delaine Halberg, were program directors in 1994-95 and whose sister Michele studied in Alnwick during 1982-83.

"Tim and I found ourselves living in England again in 2003 – 10 years after we met on the program," said Tana (Jertson) Hellwig '94, Houston. They took a trip to Alnwick to show their daughter "the castle where mommy and daddy met. Now we have two beautiful children and to think all this started in Alnwick Castle. It always will hold a special place in my heart."

"Kacey Evans '03 and I met during our study-abroad trip and became best friends throughout our journey," said Ashley David '05, Ramsey, of the Alnwick romance that led the couple to marry this past February and to plan to go on the reunion trip to the castle in July. "We sat together during class, hung out together during the field trips. We chased sheep together, went on pub crawls. We even had our first kiss under the stars in the castle courtyard. It was just like a fairy tale."

Not all of the romances that emerged during study-abroad programs were between fellow students. Lisa (Virdin) Coleman '95, Woodbury, met her husband Martin in a pub in the picturesque village of Alnwick. "We had our first date on Easter Sunday – walking along the shores of the North Sea," she said. Months later he took her to the airport for their tearful goodbyes. "While I was waiting for the plane," Coleman said, "I opened the letter he gave me. Inside was a St. Christopher's pendant and note that read, 'What will the future hold? My tenet is that life is too short to give up easily on someone you really care for. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder.'" Martin moved to the United States and the two were married six years ago.

In preparation for their reunion Aug. 11-12, alumni of the Alnwick, England, study-abroad program were invited to submit favorite memories and photos from their experience.

This story reflects some of the comments included in the dozens of enthusiastic responses from participants eager to reminisce about their transcendent coming-of-age experience at "The Castle." Although there is not room on these pages to include all of the stories and photos, all are published in their entirety at www.stcloudstate.edu/studyabroad/alumni.

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