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Saint Aidan's News

South African Exchange

As the South African students visit from our twin school Groote Schuur, two of the Saint Aidan’s students explain what the experience of hosting has been like. We also hear from their partners.

Miss Sophie Huddart, Citizenship Co-ordinator, explains the benefits of the exchange.

We paired the students up in January and to see them meet for the first time was rather nerve-wracking, would they get on? Would they complement each other’s personalities? Luckily, we did something right as we seem to have forged some very strong friendships leading to a rather emotional departure.

It has been lovely to see both Saint Aidan’s and Groote Schuur students grow in confidence as the days have gone on as well as hearing their thoughts on the Saint Aidan’s way of life.

The teachers and students from Cape Town have become part of the school family by attending lessons and excursions. Hearing what they’ve learnt from one another is a personal highlight for me – who knew teenagers from two different continents could be so similar?

They have captured the attention and interest of lots of our pupils and therefore it has increased awareness of our international links and encouraged not only the host students but students from all years to learn about the South African culture and left them wanting to know more about how they can get involved.

Finally, on our 10 year anniversary of being linked, I can certainly say it has only strengthened our partnership with Groote Schuur and we are already looking forward to our potential return visit in the summer of 2018! It’s certainly been a fantastic two weeks!

Jacob Critchley explains what the group of students have done so far.

When hearing the school needed some volunteers to host a student from our partnered school in South Africa, Groote Schuur, at first I was unsure but when I heard about the opportunities I quickly jumped at the chance and have really enjoyed the experience.

On Thursday 6th July our guests arrived at school around lunch time and were in school for the rest of the day, before taking our South African student home to our houses for their first night in England.

The following day was a full day in school for everyone, however, many of our South African guests were tired from their long journey and fell asleep!

On Saturday, everyone went to the Lake District and went on a boat journey across Lake Windermere.

The next day was a family day, though almost everyone met up for the whole day.

Then on Monday the whole group went to Chester for sight-seeing, a historical tour from Mr Lord and shopping.

Jacob’s is hosting Cheslin, who said, “In assembly at Groote Schuur I found out that I could have the opportunity to go on an exchange trip to England. It is my first trip outside of Cape Town and it has been fun.

The family I'm with is very nice and friendly and I feel welcome and safe.

The journey was long, however, when we landed in England I was excited but overrun with tiredness.

My time in England has been very different than my life in Cape Town as it is the first time I have been on a bus!”

Mari Ellis-Gray describes her experience hosting a South African student.

Hosting a South African exchange student has been a wonderful experience. I have met so many new people and made many new friends. We all spent lots of days out together and it was great listening to how different Cape Town is in different areas and the different culture compared to Blackpool.

All of the students were extremely pleasant and friendly, along with the teachers. We had days out during school time and out of school time. On Saturday 8th July we were up early to go to the Lake District, which involved a ride on a lovely boat. We were joined by families and even a family pet came along too! On Monday 10th July we went to Chester on a trip to visit some historic monuments and museums, as well as a bit of shopping and a MacDonald's.

I would definitely participate in this exchange again as it has been amazing. We had two exchange students in our house both for me and my sister, Leti, and they were both extremely polite and kind! We had a few evenings out together like bowling, which was great fun, as well as a few trips to different parks and people’s houses. It’s been a great experience meeting people from our partner school in Cape Town and I would highly recommend participating in the following years. Next year there will be an exchange over to Cape Town to which I look forward. I will miss the students greatly however it’s been amazing spending time with them.

Chelsey, Mari’s partner said, “Our journey was 17 hours spread over two flights so it was very tiring but still fun. We received a warm welcome when we first arrived at Saint Aidan’s. We have visited lots of different places like Chester and the Lake District, which were both an amazing experience. Most of us live in the city in Cape Town so the major difference between our residential areas and Lancashire would be the rural surroundings. The weather is also different as our summers are extremely warm and England’s are very cold!

Our schools are also different because we have 7-10 subjects a day whereas Saint Aidan’s only has five. I have had the privilege of staying with the Gray family who have been extremely generous. It has been a wonderful experience.”