Five Star Kids Magazine Five Star Kids Magazine Subscription
  Lifestyle & Fashion >> Global Education


Australia’s leading independent schools encourage their students to journey far and wide in the pursuit of knowledge, growth and self actualisation.

WORDS Liz Ginis

When the Ancient Roman theologian wrote this in the 4th century, I doubt he could have imagined how his words would inspire generations to leave their little corner of earth and open their minds to new and exotic experiences.

Australia's cohort of top schools is committed to facilitating such exploration. Students across the nation are offered a range of international travel opportunities tied to their studies and co-curricular activities.

At Knox Grammar School on Sydney's leafy North Shore, cultural tours are an integral part of the school's involvement- and engagement-based philosophy.

"Travel is attached to all areas of learning," says the school's Headmaster, John Weeks. "Our aim is to develop global citizens who have an awareness of both themselves and others. Experiencing other parts of the world helps the boys become more resilient to cope with life."

Weeks cites the school's recent Gallery Choir Tour to Europe, which provides Knox boys with an opportunity to work with similarly aged children in one of the world's leading choral ensembles, the Hungarian Radio Children's Choir.

"The boys visit locations where the birth of Western music has taken place - architecturally, historically, acoustically," Weeks says. "To experience the deep and emotional response of European audiences while on the other side of the world is something the boys will never forget."

Sydney's Shore (Sydney Church of England Grammar School), which enjoys panoramic views over Sydney Harbour, offers its all-male student body similar opportunities.

"From an academic, cultural and historical perspective we host a number of international tours, including our annual trip to Indo-China," Headmaster Dr Timothy Wright says. "It ties in heavily with our study of the Vietnam War - and connects our students to areas from which Australian immigrants have been drawn. It helps the boys to develop a much deeper understanding of their own nation."

Located in the rural idyll of Kenthurst, on the outskirts of north-western Sydney, The Hills Grammar School offers its senior students a range of cultural travel experiences - the biennial Classics tour to Western Europe and the UK, and the Languages tour to Germany and France, or Japan.

For Eden Faithfull, the 2011 Classics tour not only improved her ability to speak Latin, a notoriously difficult language to master, but cemented her cultural knowledge.

"My three weeks were filled with information and sites and experiences - from Rome to London to Hadrian's Wall," the Year 11 student says. "There were Latin inscriptions on everything. We were deciphering the writing on ancient tombs, on pottery and in paintings. Things just clicked. It's vastly different seeing things right in front of you that otherwise you'd just read about in a text book."

Main image: Cairo’s pyramids offer an
amazing educational experience
From above: Knox boys in uniform and receiving a
warm welcome in Papua New Guinea

" The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. "

Hills Director of Marketing and Community Relations, Elizabeth Pellinkhof, says that as well as the annual tours, students are offered immersion – or home-stay – opportunities.

“Students travel overseas and stay with a family for about six weeks. This really gets their oral skills up to speed. It’s a nice follow-up to the trip they did earlier in the year. It maintains a connection to the language and culture.” Year 12 Hills student Tilly Cox can’t speak highly enough of the experience:

“In total, I spent twelve weeks in France,” Tilly says. “When I’m there I speak only French.” As well as mastering the language, Tilly has “become a different person. I’m much more confident and have an increased sense of self. And my goals are clearer.”

At Fintona Girls’ School, in Melbourne’s inner eastern suburb of Balwyn, students are encouraged to be tolerant world citizens, says Principal Suzy Chandler. They are also taught that some of life’s most important lessons are learned outside the classroom. Helping others is one such lesson.

All students participate in the school’s Community Service program and are offered the opportunity to visit third-world countries, such as India and Madagascar, to lend a hand with schooling in remote villages.

Knox and Shore boys take up similar opportunities to be of service. The former visit the Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea, each July. “It’s an ongoing relationship that we have with the communities there,” Weeks says. “The boys live in the villages, teach at the local schools and help with infrastructure such as water systems and health clinics. It encourages them to learn by serving.”

Shore also encourages its students to serve. Year 11 boys volunteer to work in the slums of Manila. “We’re a Christian school,” Dr Wright says, “and we think that, for many boys, putting their faith into action helps them make sense of it all.

In late 2011, Year 12 Hills student Harriet Tegel travelled as she’d never done before in Cambodia on a social justice trip with five school friends.

“We were so naïve about what we were going into,” she says. “It was a complete culture shock. We had to manage our own budget – $9 a day for food. Such experiences are invaluable life lessons. I now truly appreciate everything I have here,” she says. “Everyone was so happy to have us there but I’m the one who needs to say ‘ahkon’ (thank you). I’ve learned so much about myself and about how fortunate I am.”

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So … sail away from the safe harbour. Explore. Dream. Discover”. – Mark Twain

Whatever the school, wherever the destination, the outcome seems the same.

“Kids come back changed,” says Weeks. “They learn that they make and shape their future, and that you can exist in your local community but you can thrive in the global one.”

Info: Knox Grammar School Colleen Fenn, Knox Enrolments Manager 02 9487 0108

 Shore Jan Jelbert, Assistant to Headmaster 02 9923 2277

 The Hills Grammar School Elizabeth Pellinkhof 02 9654 2111

 Fintona Girls’ School 03 9830 1388

 :: Home  ::  Experiences  ::  Destinations  ::  Where to Stay  ::  Subscribe  ::  Holidays with Kids  ::