Term 2 is an exciting and busy time in Year 9 at Gippsland Grammar. At the beginning of May the first group of Year 9s started their Melbourne Experience with a sense of eagerness and apprehension; not quite sure what to expect for their two weeks in the city, but ready for anything.
The Melbourne Experience has been a rite of passage for Gippsland Grammar’s Year 9s for the last 20 years and includes a program designed with both academic and social merit. At the same time, the Melbourne Experience is fundamentally about building the student’s independence at this important time in the student’s life. In one aspect, the experience develops the student’s ability to travel independently throughout the CBD. The students quickly become familiar with the city’s pace and soon master the skills of using Melbourne’s extensive public transport system. More importantly, the program is designed to expose students to the vast array of opportunities that the city has offer and for many students it’s the first time that they start to look ahead at what the future holds for them. From career prospects to experiencing different cultures and lifestyles, students begin to think about what they want for themselves as they move through and past high school. Upon returning to school, students use these insights to become more independent in their learning and lives.
With an overall theme of “Different Perspectives” tying the Melbourne Experience together, students participated in a range of social, political and historical activities in and around Melbourne designed to provoke them to look at their world through new and varying perspectives. An example of this was on the Aboriginal Heritage Walk through the Botanical Gardens, where students were given a sense of what the city was like before settlement and challenged on their consumption of natural resources and how the land around them can be used. Additionally, visits to the Parliament of Victoria and then the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court exposed students to why laws are made and how these laws are interpreted by the courts in the very real and raw justice system. Meeting with the Big Issue and some of their magazine vendors provided students with a range of information and viewpoints about the issue of marginalised people and homelessness in Australia. Throughout all, I was very impressed with the way the students were respectful and engaged, showing off the School’s values in the city.
After the two intensive weeks of the Melbourne Experience, most students and staff were ready to return to the routines of the Garnsey Campus. While their timetable may return to normal, the experiences in Melbourne stay with the students and offer then a different perspective in their schooling and lives. I would like to extend a thank you to the students for their enthusiasm, as well as a special thank you to the staff for taking time away from their family to give the students this unique experience.
“The whole thing was eye opening because I was pushed outside my comfort zone. I couldn’t rely on my parents so I had to rely on myself to achieve independence.”
“The city and the people can feel overwhelming but I found that if you show respect they will respect you.”
“The experience gave me a sense of individuality because the teachers where there if you got stuck but we were able to figure out things for ourselves.”
“Melbourne was an insightful and unique experience because of the allowance to have our independence and develop our individuality.”
“A big part of the experience for me was learning to get around the city and being safe around trams and trains.”
“I gained the confidence to go around Melbourne by myself.”
Hannah Fairweather and Molly Howard