The Knox School has the enviable record and tradition of hosting International Students for over thirty years. We have highly developed in-house expertise, policy and practice to ensure International Students are welcomed, embedded in the school and valued as young people in their own right and for their own culture and tradition.
Our homestay program has local ‘parents’ who have been working with The Knox School for many years. Relationships are positive, expectations clear and supportive. Students thrive in the local care of people who care about them.
Younger International Students have been allowed to enter the country in recent times with visa obligations that require them to have a parent or close blood relative with them. For The Knox School, this has resulted most often in one parent accompanying the student to Australia. We have welcomed these parents into our community and facilitated their social integration with English language classes, conducted in a warm and friend-making style.
In recent years, with nearly all of our International Students coming from China and we have focused on building closer cultural links back into China.
This has been developed at various levels. As Principal, along with the Director of the International Program, we visit the parents of International Students in China twice a year.
The second visit is to host a Year 12 Graduation Dinner in China for the students and their parents as we wish to recognise these parents as we do our local parents.
We have developed a number of sister school relationships, hosted visits and will send a student music and cultural tour to China later in 2019. This tour group will visit and be hosted by three sister schools in Shanghai, Hangzhou and Chengdu respectively. A music workshop and concert will be held in each school and the tour group will play at our Year 12 Graduation Dinner. Local students, studying Chinese will be given invaluable practice on this trip as well as experiencing life in China.
We regularly work with our sister schools in video-LINK classes, practising English and Chinese respectively.
Recently, I had the pleasure of watching a LINK class with Shanghai Tianyuan Foreign Language Primary School. This was an entertaining and engaging language and culture class at Year 4.
While The Knox School was waiting for Tianyuan to come online, the lesson started with an introduction to, and demonstrations of traditional Chinese clothes worn by Han nationalities, called “Hanfu”. Alice from Year 7 showed three sets of “Hanfu” to the students, which received a “wow” response.
This was followed by Knox students greeting their Tianyuan counterparts with fluent Chinese welcome sentences.
With ongoing interactions, students from both sides started to make their own paper “Hanfu” with high levels of engagement. Towards the end of the class, students were able to show each other their finished products. When everyone sang the song called “Good Bye” in Chinese, the class was certainly brought to a climax.
Similar LINK classes are held in Middle and Senior School with ENTEL Foreign Language School in Hangzhou.
Another example of intercultural learning was the recent KEEP (Knox Experiential Education program) Coastal experience for Year 9. In KEEP, small groups of Year 9 students had to plan and navigate their way around Port Phillip Bay, using public transport, a limited budget and an overnight stay in Geelong in Deakin University accommodation. A teacher accompanied each group to ensure student safety but all planning and decision making was in student hands. This was an experience for all Year 9 students with one of the groups of International Students making a video of their adventure. This can be seen at https://youtu.be/xvoYPYiE5zA
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to make all our cultural interchanges a success. Continued collaboration requires a lot of time, effort and more importantly commitment.