Student Exchange Australia: An Unforgettable Experience

FullSizeRender-1

After spending a great time with my exchange Lachlan’s family in Queensland, I had the chance to start school at Carey Grammar. Although I was a little anxious as I didn’t know what to expect, I was quite excited to finally meet the students and attend classes in a foreign country.

On the first morning of school, I was welcomed by the school’s exchange coordinator and introduced to four other exchange students from New York. We received our school and gym uniforms, which was very much like ours other than the colours, as well as a laptop and a schedule. We were now well equipped to start our first days at Carey Grammar.

One of the first things that I noticed upon arriving at the school was how big the school was. The “Kew” Campus, as the students called it, took up a whole city block and had numerous buildings to accommodate the 2,000 students. The Middle School Area, which holds students from grades 7, 8 and 9, was comprised mainly of a main hall and two outdoor areas with classrooms around the borders. At first, I was a little intimidated by its large size, but after a few days and a lot of help from Lachlan and the other year 9 students, I became more comfortable around the campus and found my way to all my classes.

What I also found interesting at Carey is that their curriculum is quite different than the one at LCC. My schedule and even those of my classmates in Melbourne had less time slots dedicated for core classes, which allowed students to participate in more electives and other classes, which I thought was interesting. I was given some unique courses such as an introduction to coding, an economics class and a unit on CSI and forensic science. I thought that these classes were all awesome and engaging. My personal favorite was the economics class because the teacher, Mr. Warmbrunn, would give very informative lectures and we started a neat project where we pretended to buy stocks to see how well they would do.

The core courses at Carey were like ours in that they taught English, Math, Science and History. The only major difference was the language course that everyone had to take. The students had the choice between French, Chinese, German and Indonesian. This course was taken as a second language and for most of the students, they had started in Grade 7. We also had, once a week, a class called C-Change, where we would discuss how to develop personal qualities that are important to our well-being and how well we interact with others. This class would finish with a chapel session. With all of these different features in the school, Carey was definitely a great place to attend.

As part of the exchange experience, Lachlan and I, together with the other exchanges and their partners, went to Healesville Sanctuary, which was home to many indigenous Australian animals, including koalas, kangaroos and even platypus. It was remarkable that we could get so close to the animals without them even moving. We even saw some of the world’s most dangerous snakes, which I was happy to see through the glass! My favorite animal was the dingo. The animal is only found in Australia and is half-dog, half-wolf. We caught them right before their morning walk and we took pictures right next to them. It is a beautiful animal and was unlike anything I had ever seen.

With all their great athletic facilities, I was really looking forward to playing a sport at the school. At Carey, everyone has to participate in a sport and since Lachlan plays field hockey, I would try out this sport. I didn’t know anything about the sport and figured it would be similar to ice hockey, a sport that I really enjoy playing, but it was completely different. Everything from the field and the number of players to the sticks and balls were different. The game actually bears a closer resemblance to soccer. Although it took some time to get used to, I had lots of fun playing the sport and was even able to play in 3 games, which was an amazing experience. I was also very surprised to learn that field hockey is one of the largest sports in the world and is played almost everywhere, especially in Europe, Asia and Australia.

Speaking of sports, I also had the opportunity to watch an Australian Rules Football game with Lachlan and his family at the MCG. The game was so entertaining and although I didn’t quite understand the rules, the atmosphere in the stands was incredible. Both teams had a passionate fan base that weren’t afraid to share their sometimes-colourful opinions. The game itself was very fast-paced and finished with a very high point total. This sport seems to combine the best of many different sports that are more common in North America, like rugby, handball and soccer. It was loads of fun!

Spending five weeks in Australia was an incredible experience for me that I will never forget. Although it was difficult to leave my family, I was able to visit Australia and discover its incredible natural life and culture. I also had the chance to take part in some unique classes and meet some really nice people at Carey which was lots of fun, even if it is my summer break. I also believe the exchange has helped me become more mature and responsible as a person. Finally, and most of all, I met a really great friend in my exchange Lachlan and I hope that we will stay in touch and see each other soon. – Andrew Fata ’19 Exchange Student at Carey Baptist Grammar School

Student Exchange: The Colours of India

Photo5Imagine this, a display of fluorescent colours, laid on the smooth marble floor, to create fanciful patterns, such as bright fuchsia lotus flowers with forest green backdrops, or candles that burn purple flames, much like in a child’s dream. These picturesque creations are a renowned form of Indian artwork, known as rangoli. They are most often seen during festivals such as Diwali, the festival of luminous decorations, which commemorates the return of Lord Rama, as well as the triumph of light over darkness and during Holi, the festival of colours.

India is a diverse nation, which has multiple states that spread amongst its vast territory, and each state has its own customs and traditions including food which varies greatly within the country. If you visit the city of Bangalore, in the southern region of Karnataka, you will discover a white spongy, circular white cake made from rice, called idli, along with tasty coconut chutney. In the northern state of Punjab your mouth will water at the smell of fried parathas, filled with green peas and potatoes. Finally, In the state of Madhya Pradesh, your taste buds will be delighted to try bhutee ka kees, a corn based dish, served with chick peas.

When I’m not trying these delectable repasts, you will find me dancing in the Daly College dance studio. I have tried the Punjabi dance style, which incorporates sporadic jumping motions, as well as impeccable coordination. There is also a contemporary dance which requires gracefulness and balance. Finally, my favourite dance originates from Rajasthan, however, this one was too arduous for me to try, given the pots that must be placed on your head!

Though every state has minor cultural differences, each part of the country celebrates a month long tradition, celebrating the return of the god Shiva. People walk for days to temples to worship this god, transporting holy water in little pots hanging from each side of their body. Driving down the road, you witness a sea of saffron orange, with fanciful decorations as they pursue their quest to the temple. I take in the moment, not letting time evade me, and observe the wonder which lies in front of me. – Jane Robeck ’19 (Student Exchange, Daly College, Indore India)

Round Square Regional Conference: Learning to Be My Best Self

RS_ArgentinaThe Round Square Regional Conference of the America’s at Belgrano Day School sadly came to an end on April 25, 2017 – too fast for everyone participating in the conference.

Round Square is something that I have always had an interest in. Its philosophy of uniting six diverse IDEALS (International, Democracy, Environmentalism, Adventure, Leadership, Service) into one way of life is unique and definitely something that I wanted to be a part of.

I found out about this conference in Argentina a year ago. I remember having a good feeling about it and instantly wanting to go. After talking to students who had just came back from the conference in LA, I knew that it was something for me. The experiences they had and the lessons they learnt about being well-rounded powerful leaders were ones that I too wanted to embrace. Never did I think that my decision to go would have had such a positive impact on me.

Argentina, even though it is troubled in certain political, economic and social sectors, has a special and unique thing about it that is quite hard to find – a positive environment/atmosphere. From the moment I entered the doors of Belgrano Day School, not once was I subjected to negative energy. Everyone and everything gave off positive energy, fuelling everyone’s happiness throughout the week. Friendships were started with a laugh, hardships were overcome with a hug and tears came purely from laughing too hard. This helped change the conference from being great to being amazing.

During the conference, the delegates had the opportunity to embrace whatever was thrown their way due to the positive and supportive environment of the conference. From the workshops and Ben Walden’s amazing speech to Techo and the Photo Safari Day, these experiences brought us together and taught us about leadership, service and responsibility. They showed us the importance of teamwork and dedication. Techo was truly an eye-opening experience. In the short time we spent there, my barazza and I pooled our efforts to create the base of the house we were constructing. The family it was going to was one that consisted of three lovely ladies – a mother and her two daughters. At the end of the day, even though we were all physically drained, I will never forget the smile on those two little girls’ faces as they ran across the elevated floor. It made every second and every bit of sweat worth it. Their happiness was all we needed to come together and create something life changing for those humble and nice people we got to volunteer for.

My experience went above and beyond the lessons learnt about the IDEALS. I have to admit that this trip was the first one I was experiencing alone. At first, I was slightly scared because I was travelling to South America, a continent so far from home, a place I never thought of visiting. On the day of the opening ceremony, Mr. Page, the former headmaster of Belgrano Day School, made everyone feel welcome by beginning his speech accompanied by four teddy bears. The four teddy bears represented a hug for anyone who was homesick. I thought I would be one of those people needing a teddy to hug. Instead, the opposite happened. In Argentina, I never felt more at home. It’s culture and way of life is very similar to my own as I am part Italian. Right from the beginning, starting with my amazing host family, the Alonsos, I was welcomed with a hug and a huge smile. They were truly one of a kind. They share strong family values and traditions like my own family and the respect they have for each other and others is an example. I felt like I was with my family in Italy and in Montreal. My host family, with their loveable personalities, made my stay in Argentina even more memorable.

If I had to choose the most memorable part of my trip I would choose the wonderful people I met. Over the course of six days, I made friendships that I will keep for life. Whether they were delegates or student leaders, 15 or 17 years old, I connected with all of them. Many friendships started in interesting ways; some were started right in my barazza, with friendly competition when playing field hockey, with playful teasing, and with rock-paper-scissors in the middle of a food court. They made you feel welcome and when you were with them you felt positive. I realized the importance of surrounding oneself with positive people, the importance of having a positive attitude and the effects of positive energy in everyday life. It taught me a lot about myself and who I want to surround myself with. In such a short time we came together and formed a tight bond which I will never forget.

A big thank you goes to all the dedicated and passionate student leaders and organizers of this conference. The memories created are owed to them. With their outgoing, cheerful and friendly personalities, it made the conference successful. Their enthusiasm and smile was contagious and made this experience worth remembering.

This Round Square Conference in Argentina will be remembered forever. It has taught me the importance of service, leadership and leading by example. Most of all, it gave me insight on how to be my best self.

Thank you LCC and Ms. Shadley for this amazing opportunity! – MariaLuisa Vigano ’18

Student Exchange: From Beaches and Waterfalls to the Sydney Opera House

StudExchange_LadyMethodist_EWaxman_2016_2017_001Over the past week, I have gotten to see and do so much. Even though the weather hasn’t been the best, with rain almost every day, we did get two sunny days on the weekend. On Saturday, we went to Dee Why beach and I went into the Pacific Ocean for the first time. The temperature outside and in the water was great, and although the current was too dangerous to go swimming, we walked along the beach, went up a cliff and saw a great view, and then went swimming in an ocean pool. An ocean pool is a pool built on the beach that is filled with ocean water. It was really nice going in the pool because, unlike the ocean, there were no sharks in there!

After our day at the beach, we had fish and chips while watching the sunset over the water, and then we went home. The next day, we woke up early to go to the Blue Mountains, an area that got its name because of the density of Eucalyptus trees. We spent the day hiking to waterfalls, lookouts, and enjoying the nice weather. Our first stop in the mountains was at a national park where we saw wild kangaroos. I got a lot of pictures of the mountains and with the kangaroos. We then went from lookout to lookout getting tons of pictures. I saw the three sisters, a famous rock formation in the Blue Mountains, and then we went for lunch in a valley. The weather was great and we had an amazing time.

It ended up raining nonstop for the rest of the week but by the time the weekend came it cleared up again. I’ve only seen a live recording of an opera in a movie theatre with my grandfather, so seeing La Traviata Saturday night at the Sydney Opera House was a once in a lifetime experience. The Opera House was filled with windows that had great views of the harbour and when it got dark at intermission, Sarah, her mom Janet and I, went out on one of the balconies and took pictures of the Harbour Bridge and Luna Park, an amusement park in Sydney, all lit up. The costumes and the set for La Traviata were fantastic, and some of the notes the lead vocalists hit were amazing. I had such a great time and really enjoyed the performance.

On Sunday, we went to Darling Harbour to walk around and go to the aquarium. It was overcast again but we were able to take the ferry to the harbour. While the ferry got closer to the city, we could see the Sydney tower through the fog and a lot of new glass buildings along the water. Before going into the aquarium, we walked around the harbor and saw a model of the boat that James Cook used when he discovered Sydney. After a short but heavy rainstorm, the sky cleared up and it was really sunny outside. We walked around the water some more, and then went to the aquarium where we saw a whole bunch of different aquatic animals native to Australia. There were Jellyfish that changed colours, different types of coral, stingrays, dugongs, sharks, and many other types of fish and crustaceans. I really don’t like sharks but I found it very cool being able to go through a glass tunnel to see them swim over us.

Already three weeks in and I have seen and done so much. I have pushed myself to try new things and I have made so many memories that I am sure to remember for the rest of my life. This trip has been amazing and I can’t wait to experience everything the remaining three weeks have to offer. -Ella Waxman ’19, Student Exchange at Methodist Ladies’ College

De très, très, très vieux livres exposés à LCC

Fichier_005 (1)

La bibliothèque juive de Montréal offre des ateliers pour présenter des livres anciens. Ceci a permis aux élèves de pouvoir toucher, sentir et lire des livres du XVe au XVIIe siècle.

Voici des commentaires des élèves

Aujourd’hui, nous avons eu le privilège d’interagir avec des bibliothécaires du JPL.C’était très intéressant et j’ai appris beaucoup sur des livres anciens.

Aujourd’hui nous sommes allés écouter deux personnes qui travaillent à une bibliothèque publique juive. Après leur présentation, nous avons mis des gants de protection pour prendre soin des livres, nous les avons touchés et regardés avec attention.

Ce matin, j’ai touché une partie de l’évolution intellectuelle des humains!

Lorsque j’ai regardé les vieux livres, j’ai compris que j’étais en train de toucher l’histoire, et cela était une expérience mémorable. C’était “extraspécial” pour moi, car la plupart des livres étaient écrits par des juifs et/ou sur des histoires juives.

C’était un honneur d’être capable de regarder et de toucher ces livres.

C’était très intéressant de voir et toucher des livres anciens. Maintenant je sais comment la première machine à imprimer a changé la vie et la technologie.

Je ne savais pas qu’il existait des livres aussi vieux. On a parlé des premières machines à imprimer l’année dernière en classe alors c’était incroyable de pouvoir voir des livres qui ont été faits avec une de ces machines, ou juste écrits à la main.

J’ai trouvé cette période très amusante et intéressante. Je crois que c’est extraordinaire que ces livres soient encore intacts.

J’ai aimé voir ces livres si vieux en personne. L’exposition était aussi intéressante, car il y a avait des livres juifs tandis que les livres que nous avions étudiés en classe étaient chrétiens.

Regarder des livres d’une autre époque était très intéressant. Une des choses que j’ai trouvées cool c’étaient que nous étions capable de toucher des livres qui ont plus d’une centaine années.

On a eût la chance de voir des livres magnifiques, et on était même capables de les toucher. Notre leçon parlait aussi de comment la machine à imprimer a changé le monde.

Les livres ont été très intéressants parce que c’est évident que les informations dans ces livres ont été très utiles dans le passé. Cela m’a permis  de prendre une pause pour réfléchir sur les moyens que j’utilise pour trouver des informations et comment ils ont changé au fil du temps.

J’ai beaucoup apprécié l’expérience d’observer les livres. C’était très intéressant et spécial de penser que ces objets, que nous avons touchés et regardés, ont été fabriqués il y a des centaines d’années.

La chose le plus spéciale à mon avis, était de savoir que les livres que je tenais étaient touchés, utilisés, et lus par des personnes qui vivaient des centaines d’années dans le passé.

J’ai aimé voir les livres anciens, c’était très intéressant pour moi de voir les livres en ancien hébreux. J’ai essayé de les lire, mais les lettres anciennes sont différentes de celles du présent.

Photos