Term 1 was a very busy and exciting time for the Indonesian Department with the arrival of 28 students and four staff members from Christian College Geelong’s sister school, SMA Negeri 2 in Lombok, Indonesia. This year we celebrated our 23rd year of our long standing relationship and successful exchange program with our sister school.
The friendships began long before the visit, with both the Christian College students and the SMA Negeri 2 students, carefully paired several months ago. The students enjoyed frequent contact with each other via email, text and Facebook and learned about each other's families, their hobbies and interests and life and eachother's countries. By the time the group arrived, despite a few nerves, all students were thrilled to finally meet.
The Lombok students and staff lived with our Christian College Geelong families during their two-week stay. The students attended school every day at Senior School and had the opportunity to visit our brand new Surf Coast Campus, Black Creek Farm, The Villa Paloma and Middle School - Highton.
Both Christian College students and SMA Negeri 2 Lombok students benefited greatly from the program with the opportunity to practice their Indonesian and English skills and learn about each other’s daily lives. Simple activities like basketball practise or watching a netball game were enjoyed by the visiting students with their host families. Even a quick visit to the supermarket was an interesting experience for our visitors. Our students learnt a lot from one another and realised that while we come from very different backgrounds and cultures we actually have a lot in common. Teenagers are teenagers, regardless of their origins, and all have similar outlooks, likes, aspirations for the future and fears.
Apart from practising the language, which has enormous benefits for the confidence of our students and thus, their willingness to use the language at a higher level and risk the inevitable mistakes that can be made, our students develop a real empathy for their new Indonesian friends, and in particular, have a greater cultural understanding of where religion fits in to the lifestyle of these young people. With many of our students having strong religious beliefs, they see that despite the differences, many of the Indonesian teenagers have a strong faith also, which develops enquiry and understanding from both groups of students.
Over the years, since leaving school, many of our Christian College Indonesian language students travel to Indonesia and they usually take the time to visit Lombok and catch up with the student they once hosted. They have the desire to see where their 'brother/sister' now lives, experience a little of their lives and finally meet the family they only knew through photos. Lifelong friendships continue to evolve and a deeper understanding is acquired.
What an amazing experience this exchange has been for all those involved; our students, our families and our community. It has helped broaden our perspectives and increase our cultural awareness, as well as cultivating positive international relations between Indonesia and Australia. The program has helped us form lifelong friendships between our two schools and has helped promote cultural awareness and understanding amongst our students.
The teachers and students at SMA Negeri 2 are eagerly awaiting our arrival next year when Christian College Indonesian language students from Years 10 and 11 will have the opportunity to participate in the exchange program and spend 2 weeks in Indonesia. Our relationship with our sister school is something to be proud of and encourages global citizenship within our school community.
Head of Indonesian - Exchange
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