“Travel is still the most intense mode of learning.” Kevin Kelly
There’s many experiences I wish all students could have as part of their schooling. Going on overseas exchange, or hosting a visitor, is high on my list of absolutely life-changing events. Our school promotes this notion of ‘a wider world view’ by encouraging travel and particularly homestays for both staff, students and their families.
Chinese students from Shanghai arrived at our school this week, after just a few hours in Australia, nervous and a little apprehensive about their English language skills. Our student ambassadors, many who have had multiple experiences of hosting students from other Asian countries, as well as visiting themselves, soon had our guests feeling at their ease. The teachers, after just a few lessons, all agreed that our guests had excellent English.
We had a varied, rich and very outdoor program for these students who attend a large inner city school in one of my favourite cities, Shanghai (which I visited in 2010 on exchange). I tried out my written language skills in way of introduction for the students. 😉
These students – from Shanghai Xiangming Junior Middle School – were soon throwing boomerangs and listening to skilful didgeridoo playing with Brett and Richard, Koori men who work with our school making art and mentoring. Not one of the students seemed to know anything about either of these Aboriginal cultural icons and had great fun exploring what they could do with such a strangely shaped piece of wood.
Next they were visiting our school farm, feeding the poddy calves and chickens. Shortly after there were chemistry and science lessons, design and language classes. Students learnt with our marine biology and agriculture teachers too. They also spent time chatting with our students at recess and lunch.
Just do it!
Young people who have the opportunity to meet people from different countries and travel themselves are gaining a genuinely global education. Exchanges are wonderful as students have an opportunity to be more than just a tourist. They get to taste another culture and gain new experiences and friendships.
I love sitting back and watching as the participants relax, get into the flow and start enjoying new experiences. Our students are hoping to visit Shanghai next year.