It will be with fond memories and tissues on-hand that we farewell our German exchange students tomorrow. There is no doubt that they have become much more than just visitors, but indeed friends and a part of our Somerset family.
The experience has brought with it real insight not only into how different our cultures are, but also how similar. To find a room abuzz with the bilingual chattering of students, is certainly something special. It was wonderful to witness students mingling so heartily. You would be forgiven, for not realising that a mere two weeks ago these young people were separated by the distance of half a world.
Each student will take home very different impressions and memories of our little corner of the globe. My sincerest thanks go to the homestay families who welcomed and looked after these students with such generosity and care.
The students were treated to a very special Yugambeh welcome, which saw them anointed in local ochre clay and which granted them permission from traditional landowners to walk the Burleigh Headland and learn of its creation and ancient middens. Plus there were pool parties and paddle-boarding, and of course a good old Aussie Sausage Sizzle. And like true locals, many also took part in the typical Thursday night ritual of late night shopping at Robina. They also enjoyed special access behind the scenes at Burleigh SLSC before venturing into the water to hone their bodyboarding skills (quite bravely really considering the Chief Lifesaving Trainer had just instilled in them the fear of dumping waves, rips, shifting sandbars, deadly jellyfish, sharks and even crocodiles!).
The students and teachers from Düsseldorf’s Comenius Gymnasium are keen to repay the hospitality that they have enjoyed while here, and have already extended an invitation for our Somerset students to visit them in 2017. They remind us that in German, auf Wiedersehen, is not really a good-bye but instead a promise to see each other again.
For some insight into the students’ perspectives on the exchange, keep an eye out in next week’s Somerset Times for their take on the experience.
« Back to IndexNext article in this edition »
Each year, there are a number of opportunities for Somerset families to host students from abroad. If you are interested in being a part of future cross-cultural exchanges, please contact Dr Scott Ham or your child’s Language teacher.