As I write this week’s newsletter, I am in Shanghai visiting new students and their families. The six students joining Gippsland Grammar in Term 3 to complete Years 11 and 12 all currently attend Ivanhoe Grammar’s Shanghai Campus.
Head of Boarding, Mr Llewelyn, and I have meet with each student and their family to learn more about them, their aspirations and their hopes for an Australian education. Travelling abroad to study is a Chinese tradition going back nearly 100 years and is indicative of the importance that the Chinese people place on the education of their children, and the benefits of a global perspective.
Our new students’ families all live in the Shanghai region, a city with a population of more than twenty-four million people. To be successful in this environment requires hard work, the ability to speak at least two languages fluently and a thorough education. To be educated at foreign schools with good reputations provides a competitive edge when building future careers.
Each of the students is nervous about coming to Australia. Some have visited before, but for others this will be their first trip overseas. Their parents are also nervous as they are handing over the care and education of their children to people that they have met for the first time this week. They are entrusting us with the education of their children, based on the reputation of Gippsland Grammar and the advice they have received from Ivanhoe Grammar. We do not take this responsibility lightly.
Our Australian students have much to gain from this experience. They will gain insight into a foreign culture through their interactions with the Chinese students. Some may gain some experience with the language. Ultimately, they will all broaden their global outlook through having friends from another country.
Our Chinese students have many things in common with their Australian peers. They enjoy listening to music, playing sport and using their mobile phones. Some of the boys would love to learn how to write computer games. The girls enjoy playing badminton. Like all teenagers, they are a little unsure of who they are at present; the emerging adult within is hoping to be accepted and liked by others. They want the Australian students to like them and accept them for who they are.
I am looking forward to welcoming these students to our community. I look forward to watching them grow and develop. Most importantly, I look forward to watching them become part of our community and connecting with their peers from Gippsland Grammar.