Student Exchange Australia: Becoming a Stronger Individual

Auclair_Sophia_GlidingThe past few weeks have been fun, doing things I never expected to do in a million years and challenging myself to push my comfort zone and make new friends.

While the first week of school was a bit tough, this experience has helped me become a stronger individual. The classes are super fun, the teachers are wonderful and overall, Westminster School is just a great environment.

In math, the students are working on items which I have already covered at LCC. In English, we are studying Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In history, we are working on the Industrial Revolution. Meanwhile, in art, we are looking at the painting style called Impressionism. It is very fun to learn new ways of observing things in these classes. For example, in math, I have been learning new styles of studying, which has also been helpful in learning skills.

I believe I have been participating very well in class and simply getting to know the environment. I have also been making a ton of Australian friends and friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime.

Last weekend, I went plane gliding and flew the plane myself!! I also asked the instructor if we were able to do aerobatics and luckily he did a barrel roll, which was awesome. This recent weekend I went to a maze where I climbed four levels and had to avoid obstacles. This was approximately four stories high and lots of very hard work but a blast.

I am leaving in 14 days and will be sure to make the most out of the rest of the time I have here. We will be going to Sydney next weekend…stay tuned! – Sophia Auclair ’19, Exchange Student at Westminster School, Adelaide, Australia

Student Exchange Australia: Discovering my Passion

Urimbirra_Wildlife_Park

Since I’ve arrived in Australia, all my days on this wonderful journey have been filled with joy. This trip has not only been the best time of my life so far but it has also been a time where I learnt about myself as an individual and my passion for animals has deepened.

The day after I arrived I started to explore this beautiful country. On July 19, my exchange student, Abigail, Angela (her mom) and Alana (a close friend of Abigail’s), and I, explored downtown Adelaide and the amazing sites that awaited us. We first started off our day by visiting the central markets where we wandered around for a while, and then headed off to the North Terrace where we saw the university of Adelaide, an art gallery and a library. We also had an opportunity to visit Adelaide’s war memorial; it was beautifully detailed and filled with representations of soldiers that fought for Australia during World War II. We then visited the Alpine festival, which is an annual festival to celebrate winter with a lot of different fun activities available to the public. We ended the day at the Torrens River, where we relaxed for a little while.

On July 20, I had a very memorable experience. I learnt something about myself that I am very happy with as it made me aware of my deep passion for animals. It was during our visit to the Urimbirra Wild Life Park where I got to see so many different animals from those I have seen in Canada. Yes, everyone loves animals but something in my heart told me that day that I definitely want to work with animals in the future. This day was also filled with numerous activities, such as a visit to Victor Harbour where we ate fish and chips and indulged in some candy I had never seen or eaten before. We also walked around Granite Island where we found some spectacular views overlooking the bay. However, this will be the day where my happiness was greatest as it touched my passion for animals.

The next day, we went to Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens. Although there weren’t many leaves on the trees to see—it is winter in July, which feels like a warm Canadian fall—it was an amazing experience to see the Australian nature that surrounded us. After this, we went to Melba’s chocolate factory. Who can get enough junk food? Here, I tried many different chocolates that Australia is known for in this part of the world. We then walked through Hahndorf, a charming German town with lots of pretty sites and then wound down our day with a little bowling and dinner with some of Abigail’s friends.

July 22 was somewhat rainy so we had a laid back day as we walked around the Westfield Marion Mall where I had an opportunity to see stores that are unique to Australia. We also caught a movie—Central Intelligence—that was actually pretty funny. It was too rainy to do anything else so we headed home and had a relaxing night watching movies and eating junk food. The next day the weather had cleared up, and we spent some time in the Kuipto Forest where we made a bonfire and…went Pokémon hunting! We also explored the forest and roasted yummy marshmallows.

On July 24, we walked down to Jetty Road in Glenelg where we strolled along the coast of their beach, which was very windy. This being their winter, it was too cold to swim in the water as the temperature hovers around 15 degrees Celsius.

Although my trip has only begun, I have had an awesome time so far. I am very excited to go to Westminster School—even though it is my school summer break!!— and I am really happy that I am having this opportunity to travel the world.  – Sophia Auclair ’18, Exchange Student at Westminster School, Adelaide, Australia

 

RSIS Peru 2016: Service Trip a Rewarding Experience

Gift exchange with the local kindergarten children

Over the course of my Senior School years, I have been involved in numerous Round Square related activities. In grade 9, I was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend six weeks in South Africa on exchange. The following year, I attended an eight-day conference in Los Angeles, which turned out to be equally as memorable. I was, therefore, very excited when I decided to go solo on a three-week service project to Peru this summer.

One heavy bag, two stressed parents and a cancelled flight later, I miraculously ended up in Cusco on July 11. There, I spent the first two weeks with 18 other students who had travelled from all the edges of the world. Along with the two adult leaders, Andy and Nina, we formed team “Llama”.

The two first days were planned primarily for us to acclimatize to the high Cusco altitudes (3,400m) as well as get to know one another. This was accomplished by taking part in creative activities. First, we travelled to a place called Apulaya Music where we spent the entire afternoon learning about Andean art and music. I was taught two new ways to draw: Kaninpacha and Ukupacha, which give life to inanimate objects. As well, I added another instrument (along with the French horn!) to my list of skills by mastering the Andean panpipes, something we all played at the end of the day for our final celebration.

Second, my group and I successfully completed a Via Ferrata, a form of intense rock climbing that has become quite popular in South America. This adventure required us to climb up a 400m ladder that was both vertical and horizontal. Once at the top, we took six zip lines back to the bottom, something I had never done before!

After these orientation days, we were eager to get to work and headed to a town called Kaninchimpa to begin our project. During these eight days, we were split into three local families. My host parent’s names were David and Ophelia. They had a daughter named Olga and a niece named Vanessa. They also had (get ready for this!) a dog, two cats, five cows, five chickens, a dozen lambs, three pigs, two oxen and 60 guinea pigs! Everyday, we’d wake up, feed the guinea pigs, and then walk up to the work site where we’d spend the entire day. Our goal was to build a school on top of the site since the school the children are going to now is extremely far away from their village. To build the school, we first made a solid foundation by digging and filling the holes with rocks and mud. To then build the walls, we had to make bricks (which took four to five days to dry!). This was one of the best parts of my trip as we were given welly boots and had to walk around making mud for hours. This may seem like an easy job (I sure thought it would be at first) but I can assure you it is difficult as the mud is thick and hard to pop in and out of. In fact, one day, my boot got stuck and I ended up walking right into the mud with nothing but my sock! By the end of our trip, we had built half of the school, something we were all very proud of.

Kaninchimpa was certainly my favourite part of the trip. The bond I made with my host family was truly special. Although communicating with them was quite difficult, we tried our best to interact and play with them. I would always help them with dinner, ask them for different words in Quecha and even taught them multiple card games like Uno and Spoons, which became our daily activity. As well, I realized during my stay, that this type of experience was something I knew that I wouldn’t have the chance to do again. That being said, I tried to be adventurous and take advantage of every opportunity and new thing that came my way. For example, despite my small stature, I was always offering to do mud mixing, wheel barrowing and brick carrying. Also, I tried lots of new food (even guinea pig!).

After having worked for eight days straight, we all got to reward ourselves by visiting the one and only Machu Picchu! Team Llama was out in the bus line at 4 am, however, we only started our tour at the site at 7 am. Once the tour was over, I was allowed to spend the entire day (a whole 12 hours on the site) doing whatever I wished. Although I really liked the Inca Bridge and the Sun-gate, simply being there was amazing.

So that is what I did for the first part of my trip with team Llama. The group left on the 25th and, on the 27th, my new team, team Condor, arrived in Cusco. I was with this team for half of their journey as a student leader intern. Now, you may be wondering: what exactly is a student leader intern? I, with three other students that had been with me in team Llama, redid the trip with team Condor. This time, however, we were in charge of running it.

Being a leader is scary enough but I was even more nervous to be a leader in PERU! Nonetheless, the student leaders had an entire day to prepare with our new leaders, Andrea and Freddy. Had it not been for their expert advice and confidence in us, we would not have been able to have done such a good job.

Leading team Condor taught me numerous things about myself. First of all, I was rather nervous about the prospect of leading students my age. My experience was limited to being a CIT for a bunch of 3-6 year olds last summer. Having to lead a group of people my age seemed more difficult, as I wanted them to respect me but at the same time, like me! Also, going into the trip, I did not think I’d make the same bonds with team Condor that I did with team Llama. Needless to say, I was so wrong! I connected with everyone on team Condor just as much. As well, they all felt comfortable enough to come to me for advice and questions, which I really liked.

Secondly, I am considered to be extremely organized. This was both my biggest strength and weakness going into the trip. Let me explain: sometimes, I like to plan out my entire day to the minute. This means that I do not like change. Being adaptable was therefore a strength I wanted to develop. On my day to lead, as usual, things did not go as planned. Two teammates had to go back to Cusco and some people did not have proper equipment. Handling these problems and making changes to the schedule without freaking out was a skill I definitely learned that day.

Lastly, since I had already experienced the trip before, I was considered an expert and, because of this, I didn’t think I’d learn anything new. I was, once again, wrong. With team Condor, I continued to learn and experience more and more things. I did this by asking lots of questions. For example, I learned that some houses in Cusco have two bull statues on their roofs, which stand for protection. Also, at Kaninchimpa, we organized a soccer game with all the local children. That night, we played for hours with the sunset in the background, an image I will not be forgetting anytime soon.

In conclusion, the RSIS 2016 Peru trip has been, like my other Round Square experiences, absolutely incredible. Even though team Llama was great, I thought that my time as a student leader intern was the most memorable and helpful. As I go into my final year at LCC as Round Square Head, I have lots of new ideas and leadership skills that I will most definitely be using because of what I have learned in Peru. I cannot wait for the year to start! – Abby Shine ’17

Student Exchange – Adelaide Australia: How Sweet It Is!

2016_2017_StudentExchange_SophiaAuclair_01This trip has not only been the best time of my life so far, but it has also been a time where I have learned about myself as an individual and my passion for animals has deepened.

The day after I arrived I went straight to exploring this beautiful country. On July 19th, Abigail, Angela (her mom) and Alana (a close friend of Abigail’s), and I, explored downtown Adelaide and the amazing sites that awaited us. We started off our day by visiting the central markets where we wandered around for a while, and then headed off to the North Terrace where we saw the University of Adelaide, an art gallery and a library. We also had an opportunity to visit Adelaide’s war memorial; it was beautifully detailed and filled with representations of soldiers that fought for Australia during World War II. We then visited the Alpine festival, which is an annual festival to celebrate winter. In this festival they had a lot of different fun activities available to the public. We ended the day at the Torrens River where we relaxed for a little while.

On July 20th, I had a very memorable experience. I learned something about myself that I am very happy with as it made me aware of how deep my passion for animals is. It was during our visit to the Urimbirra Wild Life Experience where I got to see so many different animals from those I have seen in Canada. Yes, everyone loves animals but something in my heart told me that day that I definitely want to work with animals in the future. This day was also filled with numerous activities, such as a visit to Victor Harbour where we ate fish and chips and indulged in some candy I had never seen or eaten before. We also walked around Granite Island where we found some spectacular views overlooking the bay. However, this will be the day where my happiness was greatest as it touched my passion for animals.

The day after, we went to Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens. Although there weren’t many leaves on the trees to see—it is winter in July, which feels like a warm Canadian fall—it was an amazing experience to see the Australian nature that surrounded us. After this, we went to Melba’s chocolate factory. Who can get enough junk food? Here, I tried many different chocolates that Australia is known for in this part of the world. We then walked through Hahndorf, a charming German town with lots of pretty sites and then wound down our day with a little bowling and dinner with some of Abigail’s friends. 

July 22nd was somewhat rainy so we had a laid back day as we walked around the Westfield Marion Mall where I had an opportunity to see many different stores that are unique to Australia. We also caught a movie—Central Intelligence—that was actually pretty funny. It was too rainy to do anything else so we headed home and had a relaxing night watching movies and eating junk food.

The day after, the weather had cleared up, and we spent the day in the Kuipto Forest where we made a bonfire and…went Pokémon hunting. We also explored the forest and roasted yummy marshmallows. 

Today, July 24th, we walked down to Jetty Road in Glenelg where we strolled along the coast of their beach, which was very windy. This being their winter, it was too cold to swim in the water as the temperature hovers around 15 degrees Celsius. 

Although my trip has only begun, I have had an awesome time so far. I am very excited to go to their school—even though it is my summer holiday time out of school!!— and I am really happy I am having this opportunity to travel the world.— Sophia Auclair ’18

Une activité de jardinage pour protéger les papillons

Butterfly_GardenChaque année, les papillons monarques font un voyage de plus de 5000 km du Canada jusqu’au Mexique. Mais depuis quelques années, les populations de monarques ont atteint un creux historique d’à peine 33,5 millions en 2013, alors que leur moyenne annuelle avait été de 350 millions au cours des 15 dernières années.

Une des principales causes de ce déclin? La disparition marquée de la seule espèce de plantes dont se nourrissent les monarques et sur laquelle les femelles pondent leurs oeufs : l’asclépiade.

Le 26 mai, des élèves de 3e année à la 11e année ont participè à la sauvegarde des papillons en plantant des asclépiades, une plante vitale pour les monarques. Ce jardin papillon se trouve à côté du nouveau parking.

Vous voulez faire un petit geste concret et significatif pour protéger les monarques? Plantez aussi de l’asclépiade pour les accueillir chaleureusement cet été! Ce petit geste contribuera à créer un effet papillon pour la protection des monarques, qui dépendent de nous pour assurer leur survie.

Voici des commentaires d’élèves du junior school après l’activité :

  • «J’ai beaucoup aimé planter des asclépiades pour aider les papillons monarques à survivre. J’aime les papillons et faire du jardinage. J’espère que les papillons vont aimer nos plantations!» Vanessa Melki, 4e année
  • «J’ai trouvé que c’était une très bonne initiative de planter des asclépiades pour attirer les papillons monarques puisque ces insectes sont très beaux et peuvent embellir l’école.» Édouard Des Parois Perrault, 6e année
  • «J’ai beaucoup aimé cette expérience en jardinage parce qu’on a donné plus de beauté à l’école.» Adam Trasher, 6e année
  • «Just to think that this activity can bring beauty and wonder to our school and could change the way we live our lives.» Élan Martin-Prashad, grade 6
  • «J’ai beaucoup aimé planter les différentes espèces végétales parce qu’on aidait l’environnement et les papillons.» Amélie Stevenson, 4e année
  • «J’ai aimé jardiner parce que j’ai appris à mieux jardiner.» Brendan Singleton, 4e année
  • «J’ai beaucoup aimé planter des arbustes et enlever les mauvaises herbes du joli jardin.» Maya Lutfy-Friedman, 4e année
  • «I really liked gardening because it was fun to help out and help the butterflies.» Gianluca Pietrantonio, grade 4
  • «J’ai aimé faire le jardinage avec mon amie Annia. C’était tellement amusant d’aider ainsi les papillons.» Annie Shane, 4e année
  • «J’ai aimé faire le jardinage pour aider les papillons. C’était tellement amusant. J’aimerais le faire à nouveau!» Annia Sandler, 4e année

Nous tenons à remercier Greg Lynch de Mantis Environmental pour avoir supervisé la création du jardin, la fondation David Suziki qui est à l’origine du projet: “L’effet papillon” ainsi que la fondation Monarch Watch qui nous a permis d’utiliser leur poster “Bring back the Monarch”.

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