International students, Ines and Vivi, joined us at the College last week, from China. They were two of just 20 student winners of a competition, with hundreds of entries, in which they had to create a promotional video (in English) that celebrated the culture of their hometown, Chengdu.
As winners of a competition, Ines and Vivi were granted the opportunity to travel to Australia and immerse themselves in our local lifestyle. As part of their adventure, they spent the week attending classes with their buddies (Emanuelle Svoboda, Kristen Crasto, Ainsley McCarthy and Louise Lee). Upon their arrival at the College, we all met in the Confucius Room in the Junior School for a welcoming morning tea. Little did we know, this morning tea would be the start of invaluable lifelong friendships.
The shared struggle of trying to settle our nerves and break free from the awkward small talk, served as a platform to forming a special bond with both Ines and Vivi. Having learnt English for 12 years in China, allowed us to connect with the girls in a way that made us feel as if we didn’t live half a world away. Instead, we were a close group of 16 year olds, where half of us couldn’t begin to comprehend the 15-hour school days in China, and the others thought it was only lunch break at 3.20pm.
We were amazed by how effortlessly the girls assimilated into the College environment. Their eagerness to learn overcame any of their initial nerves about being thrown into an unfamiliar, and surely at times uncomfortable, situation. As I sat next to Vivi in my classes, she would be sure to take a photo of every power point slide while Ines began vigorously translating any worksheets.
As if the girls hadn’t already been enough of a delight, they surprised us at our games on Friday with thank you gifts. The cards were more beautifully written than anything that I have ever been capable of. I, as I’m sure Kristen, Emanuelle and Louise are too, eternally grateful to have been given the chance to spend time with such lovely and intelligent girls; and on behalf of the College, I thank Ines and Vivi for their brief time at Somerset.
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