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Learning in an expanded world

Year 12 students Brock and Harper climb the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France during an exchange trip to Lyon

Global tours and hosting partnerships expand the Wesley learning environment from Melbourne to the other side of the world. Jacinta Janssens explains how.

School holidays are always an opportunity for students to explore, either the local environment or somewhere further afield. Extending that opportunity, Wesley each year offers more than 20 tours and hosting partnerships,  typically during school holidays, to the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Spain, France and beyond. Tours complement the curricular program, with students visiting organisations like CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland, and joining classes in our partner schools for intensive immersive language experiences, and enjoying cocurricular opportunities to travel for sport, music and the performing arts.

Rich immersion

These teacher-led tours develop students’ independence, open-mindedness and responsibility, and drive understanding of different cultures and customs. The rich immersion of an educational tour facilitates learning through life experience and supports the aim of our International Baccalaureate (IB) programs within the Junior, Middle and Senior School levels to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and internationally minded young people.

Through the IB program, all students are equipped with a secondary language. Hosting partnerships in countries where the languages they study are spoken are especially rewarding for students.

In 2019, Luke Allen visited Gredos in Spain on a hosting partnership trip. Luke, who was in Year 11 at the time, says the experience improved not only his ability to converse in Spanish, but also piqued his interest in the culture.

‘By fully immersing myself in life at Gredos, it was very interesting to see all the different cultural aspects in school as well as outside the classroom. My number one highlight was visiting the sites.’

Elisha Walker, also in Year 11 at the time, visited Japan in 2019. ‘Our time at Doshisha High School wholly immersed us in Japanese culture, as we brushed up on our Japanese conversation skills and attended regular classes. The students at Doshisha were warm and friendly and we quickly made an array of new friends,’ she says. In Japan, Wesley students even entered a relay race at the school’s sport and cultural festival, fully experiencing life at the high school.

At Wesley, our vision includes ‘learning to live with others as we share knowledge for mutual benefit.’ Learning to live with others helps our students to develop an understanding of and appreciation for others in the spirit of diversity, mutual understanding and peace, and to develop social responsibility.

First-hand experience

First-hand experiences enable our students to connect with people and places on a much deeper level than they might in the classroom, and develop skills in language and community service. There are also benefits that arise from travelling with a group, including the development of leadership skills and relationship building.

Sobi Arulampalam, who participated in a hosting partnership exchange to Spain in 2019, says:

‘It was a very fulfilling experience going on the exchange as I learned so much about the culture and language, but also about myself as an individual.’

Young ambassadors

The growth of the students was evident even to Voyager Tours tour driver Roger Phillips, who travelled with students on the New Zealand Performance Tour in 2019.

‘Working with 23 young students and three staff members from Wesley College on tour in NZ was a privilege. I’ve been driving tours for 40 years in Europe, Australia and NZ, and I’ve met and worked with many people over those years. This group of youngsters would be without doubt the most amazing I have ever had the privilege to work and travel with.

‘Not only are they wonderfully talented, but they’re also amazing young people. Wesley must be immensely proud to have such incredible young ambassadors. The staff’s dedication and commitment to the students was above and beyond anything I’ve seen before, and they are also a credit to your college.

‘After many farewells over the years, emotion is not something that is common with me but the goodbye at Wellington International Airport is one I’ll never forget: very watery eyes for this old fella. Having got to know these incredible students, I know Australia's future is in great hands.’

Our young people are learning in an expanded world, and we strive to provide a range of learning contexts for students to develop the skills and understandings to achieve in all aspects of life and contribute to creating a better world.

Tours and hosting partnerships are open to Middle and Senior School students across the College.

Jacinta Janssens is the Head of the Elsternwick Campus and coordinates Wesley’s student Tours and Hosting Partnerships