International travel back on the agenda for Grammar

Gippsland Grammar students pose for a selfie during their ongoing exchange program with Japan's Hikarigaoka Girls High School. Photos: Contributed

GIPPSLAND Grammar students are dusting off their passports, with cultural exchange programs and international tours back on the agenda after a pandemic-induced two-year hiatus.

Twelve senior students are currently on cultural exchange programs at Gippsland Grammar’s sister schools in both Japan and France.

Additionally, the School has announced an ‘ANZAC Music and Languages Tour’ to France and Belgium in April, and on September 20 2023, students will return to Japan for a study tour visiting Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Tokyo.

Earlier this year, four senior rowers competed in the UK and Italy for both the Henley Royal Regatta and the World Rowing Championships.

Principal Michele Wakeham said international exchanges, tours and competitions offered incredibly rich personal and educational opportunities for students, and she was thrilled the programs had returned to the school’s offering in 2022.

“Obviously we understand why international travel has been restricted over the past few years, but we have the utmost confidence that it is now safe for our students to return to the global classroom,” Mrs Wakeham said.

“Gippsland Grammar students have been enjoying international exchanges for more than 30 years, and we look forward to these programs continuing long into the future.”

Earlier this month, seven students (India Boag, Edward Courtier, Alanna Magee, Georgia Steel, Zara Tacey, Kiera Walpole and Tali Oates) flew into Caen in north-western France, where they are currently living with French families and attending classes at Gippsland Grammar’s sister school, Lycée Jeanne d’Arc.

Gippsland Grammar’s head of languages, Sonia Duggan, established the connection with Lycée Jeanne d’Arc in 2006, and said the relationship had been invaluable for both school communities.

“This program is very dear to my heart because we are giving our students the opportunity to have the greatest cultural experience of all time,” Ms Duggan said.

“It (the cultural exchange program) was of course tested by the pandemic, so we are thrilled that it is returning this year.”

Gippsland Grammar’s students will complete two weeks of lessons at Lycée Jeanne d’Arc before the Christmas break, and then holiday for two weeks over Christmas with their French families.

“Where they are staying is near where the D-Day landings happened in Normandy and is also near the famous Mont-Saint-Michel,” Ms Duggan said.

“So many will visit these amazing locations and that’s where the trip becomes much about history as it is about languages.

“Western France is also a region known for very thin crepes, which are also delicious, so I’m sure the students will get to taste many of these.”

A group of Gippsland Grammar students at their French sister school, Lycée Jeanne d’Arc, where they are currently on exchange. Photo: Contributed

After their time sightseeing, students then undertake three more weeks of classes in the new year, and fly back to Australia in late January, ready to start the school year at Grammar’s Garnsey Campus.

At the same time the seven students departed for France, five students (Anais Hancock, Debbie Husodo, Samithri Kaluarachchi, Ellen Roberts and Emily Thai) flew to Japan, where they are also currently attending classes at another sister school, the Hikarigaoka Girls High School.

While in Japan, these five students will also be combining school with sightseeing, and have already visited a number of cultural sights, sampled local delicacies, and even tried on traditional clothing.

In April next year, 46 Gippsland Grammar students from Years 6-12 will pack their passports for the school’s inaugural ANZAC Music and Languages Tour.

The tour will first visit France, where the students will perform a concert in Paris, and also visit a number of locations with a significant historical significance to Australians, including Amiens, Bullecourt, Fromelles, and Pozieres.

The tour will then continue to Ypres in Belgium, where students will perform The Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate, before the tour’s final performance at the Dawn Service in the cemetery at Polygon Wood on ANZAC Day.

Gippsland Grammar’s director of performing arts, Dr Kevin Cameron, said the tour presents an unsurpassed opportunity for students to learn through the lenses of music, culture, and language.

“The tour will help our students to understand what others have sacrificed in war for them; to learn the price of service and to glimpse the greatness that collaboration and commitment through music can bring to the individual and the community,” Dr Cameron said.

“They will contribute to the ongoing ANZAC story on the Somme, and this tour provides a special opportunity for some of the young people of Gippsland to honour, remember, and reflect.”

Finally in September, 20 students from Years 9 to 11 will take part in a study tour of Japan, where they will visit Gippsland Grammar’s sister school near Kyoto, as well as touring Hiroshima and Tokyo.