Term 1 has indeed been a very busy one for ‘Round Square’. As well as hosting two wonderful exchange students from Canada, preparing to send students to Melbourne for a Regional conference, assembly presentations and other fundraising activities, the RSSC (Round Square Student Committee) has been busy preparing for and helping out at the Westminster Fun Fair!
This was a fantastic opportunity for our committee to get the message of Round Square across to more people in our school and local community.
With the help of a number of RSSC members, we set up our vibrant and inviting stall between the stage and Bracegirdle's van, ready to promote the benefits of being a Round Square school.
Throughout the day our RSSC members from Years 6 to 12 volunteered their time to sell popcorn, hand out brochures and bookmarks, collect loose change for our fundraising tins (Drought Angels, Foodbank SA, Queensland floods and Christchurch support) and generally take the opportunity to promote the IDEALS of Round Square and what this means to the Westminster community.
One thing that always stands out to me at the Fair is the amazing atmosphere and how much the whole event truly captures the spirit and IDEALS of Round Square.
Not only did this wonderful school and community event allow many students a chance to show off their leadership skills, but it also significantly featured other Round Square IDEALS (such as Service) which underpin the ethos of our school.
You can’t get much more ‘Round Square’ than the Fair itself, and it was really pleasing to see so many people come together from so many different areas and put in such effort to make this event a successful one. It is truly a great asset to our school and really shows how much we make the most of every opportunity.
I heard several times throughout the day that some of the reasons that parents are choosing to send their children to Westminster is because we value qualities such as community mindedness, environmental care and social justice. Many members of the public were interested to know more about Round Square and are certain to pass that information on to other people in the community. We should all be proud to be part of such a wonderful school that offers our students such great opportunities to develop into well-rounded global individuals.
I would like to thank those students and staff who helped out in any way with the Round Square stall at the Westminster Fair, your assistance was much appreciated.
In the last eNews, I wrote about Adventure and the opportunities that our students here at Westminster have with regards to this IDEAL of Round Square, but have you ever considered that going on an Exchange is also in fact an ‘Adventure’?
Adventure, Resilience and Responsibility
Having been an Exchange student myself many years ago, as well as having spent most of my teaching career working with Exchange students, I have a pretty good grasp of what it means to take on this responsibility. And yes, it is a big responsibility, as being an Exchange student means you are representing not only yourself and your family, but your school and in many cases your country.
There are so many personal benefits to participating in an exchange, some of which I have outlined below. Westminster has a long tradition of both hosting and sending its students to a number of Round Square schools both in Australia and overseas. I have many keen requests on a weekly basis from Westminster students wishing to participate in exchange programs, some of these students want the additional challenge of being in a Non-English speaking environment and others are more comfortable to be in a country where they can communicate confidently. No matter what the preference, one thing is the same for all Exchange students, they all need to have resilience and be fully aware that they are an ambassador for their school the entire time they are away.
This aspect of exchanges is something that Westminster takes very seriously, and it is why we insist on such a variety of forms and interviews before a student represents our school regionally or overseas. Whilst it can seem to be a somewhat laborious process, most people understand that our thorough checking ultimately helps prevent issues for everyone later on.
It is an expectation of all our students at Westminster to endeavour to keep up the best they can with their academic studies whilst away. Although it is highly important to us for our students to get a full exchange experience which may include trying different subjects or participating in other activities, for Year 8 to 10 we do ask that they communicate regularly via email with their teachers and check SEQTA when possible.
For Year 11 students, they need to ensure they are completing any summative assessment tasks planned while they are away and keep up to date with any other work missed. For this reason, we often encourage students to make sure some of their exchange falls within holiday time to minimise the amount of lessons they will miss. This will often depend on where their exchange school is located and what rules they may have for when exchange students are able to visit.
When a Westminster student goes on Exchange, we try to provide as much support as possible before, during and after the exchange experience. Before the exchange begins, students are expected to read and discuss the expectations in our handbook, preferably in conjunction with their own parents. During the exchange we are in regular contact with the Round Square Coordinator in the exchange school and endeavour to work together to solve any issues that may arise. After the exchange there is an expectation from all of our Westminster students that they will contribute information about their exchange at assemblies and other publications when required. At times, we also ask our students who have been on exchange to speak to other groups such as Year 8s to give them some added insight on what it is like to be an exchange student.
The primary purpose of student exchange is to broaden the educational experience of the participating students. In so doing, not only the exchange student but also members of the host families and the broader school communities will experience enhanced international and intercultural understanding. Becoming part of an overseas community gives students opportunities to make friends, discover customs and truly feel part of the community.
One important consideration for an exchange student is that you become an ambassador for Australia. People are curious to know more, not only about the student, but also about the way of life in Australia. For those with a sense of adventure, there is no better way to understand a culture, its language and customs, than to accept the challenge of living with a host family. And the best way to understand oneself - one's opinions, beliefs, ideals and needs - is to make a commitment to learn more about the world through personal experience. Exchange students come home confidently ready to become part of a changing global community.
Overseas exchange opportunities give students the chance to become involved in daily life in that country, experience a different culture and hopefully gain a broader understanding of international relations.
Students in these situations should take advantage of the many new and different courses, daily routines, timetables, social and sporting activities and different levels of achievement available at the host school.
A well-prepared exchange student will have:
A person who wants to go on exchange should ask themselves:
Selection to participate in an exchange program depends on a number of criteria, including:
It is recommended that exchange students applying for international programs be at least 15 years of age at the time of departure and have at least a "B" average in academic subjects.
I am frequently asked by Senior students if there are any GAP year opportunities available to them. Not every student wishes to go directly to further study following Year 12, and Round Square schools often advertise for GAP students from around the world. Sometimes the timing for this can be awkward due to the Northern and Southern Hemisphere school years, however it is worth enquiring if you are keen to take up one of these opportunities. More information can be found by logging into the Round Square website and searching for GAP positions on the Noticeboard. If you have any problems finding this information please email me directly and I am more than happy to help!
Being a GAP student can not only be a rewarding job, but it can give a student the chance to have time to think about options and directions for their future. For some people it is simply a break from the study and the intensity that can build up over Year 12, before tackling the next phase of their study.
For further information on Round Square, our initiatives, exchanges, or conferences, please contact me via Email.
Round Square and Exchanges Coordinator