From the Deputy Head of Middle School

Cultural Experiences
While our Year 7 and Year 9 students have commendably made their way through this year’s round of NAPLAN testing, something perhaps a little more exciting has been happening for our Year 8 students this week. The Year 8 students have been encouraged to start giving serious consideration to their 2017 Year 9 programs and, in particular, the potential to participate in Carey’s Cultural Experience Program.

We all know that travel is much more than just sight-seeing; it’s a very personal change that occurs, one that is hopefully deep and lasting. Indeed, Carey’s extensive Cultural Experience Program enables students in Year 9 to travel to schools in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States of America, and New Zealand for six weeks, and Indonesia for two weeks. They learn about the country and how another school functions. They experience life with another family and make many new friends. As this is a reciprocal arrangement, their host buddy gets to then live with the Carey family, spend time exploring Melbourne and the surrounds, as well as attending school at Carey. Most significant is that these students learn about themselves.

Current Year 9 students, Tara O’Grady, Clunie Palliser, Sam Evans and Juliette Coleman spoke this week about their experiences of exchange and the time they spent in New York at the beginning of the year. Granted, they were fascinated by all that the Big Apple has to offer – Times Square, Central Park, the Empire State Building, and the Statue of Liberty – but what made their experiences more than a regular tourist trip was that they lived the life of a New Yorker; heading to school in knee-deep snow, managing the American school system and curriculum, and successfully integrating into someone else’s family and making it their own. Ultimately, what stood out in the students’ reflections was what Head of Middle School, Michael Nelson, aptly described as the ‘human experience’. Exchange, therefore, becomes less about travel, exchanging one place with another, and more about an exchange of ideas, values and connections with one another. Tara, Clunie, Sam and Juliette all spoke about the life-long and internationally-minded friendships they have made, and the ways in which their own parents have also made similar connections with their host parents.

Following Assembly, our Exchange Co-ordinator, Libby Parkinson, and Michael Nelson, in his role as the co-ordinator for MS students’ participation in the Robinson River tour, spoke with interested Year 8 families about what is on offer through these two programs. While attendance at this evening was a compulsory step to a students’ application for either opportunity, parents and students are encouraged to contact Libby if they missed out and would like further information. Families should access all the relevant information on CareyLink.

Inevitably, we have more students apply for these experiences than are available, and it is important to outline the selection criteria. It is expected that students will:

  • have approached their learning in a positive and consistent way
  • demonstrate areas of interest as it relates to the purposes of the tour or the exchanges
  • demonstrate a commitment to co-curricular and House activities, and represent themselves and Carey well
  • work well with others, be open minded, respectful of others, and curious about new experiences and new learning.

Ultimately, of course, supporting as many students as possible in developing their passions and exploring these opportunities is a guiding principle to how the process will work. Students do need to be reflective, however, and consider the question, how will I respond if my application is unsuccessful?

It takes courage to enter into a process like this one, and we commend those Year 8 students who would like to do so. Much like going on exchange, the experience itself of preparing an application and participating in an interview are all great life lessons. It is an exciting time for Year 8 students and we wish them, together with their parents, all the best in their personal considerations, and would encourage students to speak to staff if they feel they need further information or support.

Allan Griffin
Deputy Head of Middle School – Student Wellbeing