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The word ‘Japan’ may have been taboo, but four South African students had the last laugh as they enjoyed a three-week exchange studying at Trent College.
The visit was part of a new cultural exchange programme between Trent College and Crawford College, La Lucia in Durban, for participating students to sample school life and education in another country while experiencing differences and similarities in family life, language, lifestyle, surroundings and, of course, World Cup rugby teasing! Four Trent College students had done their exchange visit to Durban during the summer holidays.
While boarding was something new to the South African students, the young visitors experienced other significant differences too not least in the respective histories of the two countries but also subjects studied, such as Psychology and Spanish, sports played, like badminton, and the local wildlife with pigeons in contrast to lions!
Yet the ‘home away from home’ feeling was never far away, and mickey taking over the Springboks’ shock World Cup rugby defeat by Japan aside, the South Africans all described their exchange as ‘life changing’.
Georgia Fritsch said: “An exchange is a great way of testing your independence and you should be flexible and confident to understand how different schooling systems work and how different people live. I’ve grown and learnt so much about myself.”
Kiera Lander continued: “I’m leaving with not just an education, but a soul change. There were so many differences, but not in the way I’d assumed. I truly understood what unique really meant as I realised that even in two countries so different to each other, people are people, no matter where you go."
Roxanne Rowland added: “The way of teaching is very similar to Crawford so although I should have actually been in a lower year, I was able to understand quite a bit of the work the Year 13s did, and although I barely understood Spanish, it sounded really awesome!”
Trent College pupils, Will Garner, Rudi Reed, Pip Ryder and Romani Kakad with teacher Mr Keri Price, spent three weeks at Crawford La Lucia. Their in-school highlights included trying languages such as Zulu and Afrikaans and discovering new literature, like South African playwright and novelist Athol Fugard’s ‘Hello and Goodbye’.
The students stayed with families so also got to experience local life around Durban on South Africa’s east coast, taking in the big game safari and visiting a crocodile farm, all in ‘winter’ weather never colder than an English summer!
Will said: “My experience in South Africa met and vastly exceeded my expectations. We had free choice about what we did during the school day. I decided to try out some of the classes and it proved a great way to make new friends and enjoy new experiences. We also frequently received sympathy about the ‘cold Durban winter’, but I had a tip for our visitors before heading to England in September - bring a lot of coats!”
Mr Paul Taylor, Deputy Head (Academic) at Trent College, established the exchange. He believes it has shown real value in its first year, saying: “I hope 2015 marks the beginning of a strong and long-lasting relationship with our new friends at Crawford College. The chance to live and study in a different culture can be life changing for pupils on both sides. We look forward to selecting our 2016 exchange pupils shortly.”