An integral part of the Woodleigh Way is to prepare students for life beyond School. Our key aim is to provide a dynamic, balanced, liberal education in a supportive environment. One element of this preparation for life is to help students develop an international perspective of their world.
How do we prepare our students for a highly interconnected, global world when they leave Woodleigh?
The Broadening Horizons initiative has been developed because we care. We care about building relationships within our own community and because we want to equip our students with the skills, the desire and the expectation to serve others. We also wish to work with our community partners to build their capacity in tangible ways that they choose. All of our Broadening Horizons opportunities aim to empower students to feel responsibility for running their own lives to the point where they want to make a real difference in the world. This may be through addressing local, national or global issues. These projects are one way we equip our students with the skills and attributes to make a difference. These are practical opportunities to further develop independence, resilience and initiative in more challenging environments and give experience of how individuals can make a difference.
The aims of the Broadening Horizons program include providing our students with an opportunity to “broaden horizons” and increase awareness of a range of issues that are not obvious in the safe, secure environment of the Peninsula. This is an opportunity for students to move beyond their current “world” into a different setting.
- Practical opportunities to further develop independence, resilience and initiative in more challenging environments and give experience of how individuals can make a difference.
- Preparation for life and experiences that will require courage, generosity, imagination, and resolution.
- Tangible ways to embrace the importance of service to others, responsibility and cultural understanding.
- An opportunity to build relationships, co-develop projects and tackle issues (whilst giving us the opportunity to provide appropriate experiences whilst ensuring tokenism/beliefs of superiority are confronted).
- The opportunity to foster understanding, goodwill, respect, and friendship between individuals involved in the program.
Three Interwoven Elements:
- International Exchange (international)
- Indigenous Community (national)
- Local exchange/Community Service (local)
International Exchange opportunities
France and India were selected as the first destinations for international exchange. It was decided that we would investigate “exchanges” with schools/organisations in Europe and Asia. France was an obvious choice as a European destination due to its long inclusion as a LOTE in the curriculum at Woodleigh. India was chosen as it perhaps provides the starkest contrast to the Mornington Peninsula! India is incredibly rich, diverse and chaotic. Manners, beliefs, customs, laws, language, art, religion, values, concept of self, family organisation, social organisation, government and behaviour all highlight to our students that people have different ideas and ways of thinking. Students also have the option to arrange an International Exchange through the vast network of Round Square schools.
There are at least 3 key components to the experiences:
- attendance at school
- involvement in the family and social life of the exchange family
- some cultural excursions/sightseeing in the local area.
Currently, our French exchange is not a school-to-school exchange. C.I.V.E.L. (a small organisation specialising in these type of exchanges) is responsible in Lyon for the placement of Woodleigh School students in appropriate schools and with appropriate families. A key outcome of the program has been the welcome that our students received whilst in Lyon – the host families really see themselves as having an extra member of their families. Another key element has of course been the improvement in our students’ language skills, especially their oral skills as they enter the later years of education.
Unlike the French exchange, this is a direct school-to-school exchange through the Round Square network. The students begin their connection to India in Year 9 when they have the option to host students from Daly College, Indore across City Bound. We have found that this experience greatly enhances the hosts’ City Bound experiences, enabling them to effectively see their city with fresh eyes. The students will then get an opportunity in Year 10 to go to the Daly College where they will experience school and cultural immersion and some collaborative community work.
Currently, we have a relationship with PSKD Mandiri, Jakarta. Each year, we host two Year 10 students for a period of two weeks. Due to DFAT restrictions, this program is not reciprocal. Currently, in conjunction with the Director of eLearning, we are investigating collaborative projects. As an alternative, we also offer a Language and Cultural Study Tour to Indonesia for VCE students.
The second of the three elements is engagement with Indigenous Australians. Our program is designed to be a cultural immersion journey with the essential question to our students “what does it mean to be an Indigenous Australian?”
Our students have little real experience of or personal engagement with Indigenous Australians or issues. Our challenge is how we can best help our students foster an understanding of Indigenous culture and some of the current issues facing Indigenous Australians. Our goal has been the development of sustainable, authentic relationships with a predominantly indigenous school/community.
We are committed to further developing a partnership that:
- is based on a sustainable, authentic relationship with a community and their students
- develops cultural awareness, community involvement and empathy in our students
- has benefit for indigenous students and their communities
- fosters mutual appreciation and support
- encourages students to become a positive voice in social justice and reconciliation
- will include a short “visit” (possibly 2 weeks) to an indigenous community that is hands on and practical
To this end we have established strong links with the communities of Yirrkala in northeast Arnhem Land and Ampilawatja in central Australia. This has involved exchange opportunities between students from Woodleigh and both communities.
Future directions for Indigenous initiatives include:
- To establish regular and on-going relationships with the local Indigenous community on the Mornington Peninsula, Frankston and surrounding areas.
- To permanently establish annual two way exchanges with Ampilawatja and Yirrkala/ or a Homeland community.
- To support the Student Reconciliation Group
- To embed Indigenous perspectives in the curriculum at all Year levels across both campuses.
- To have regular Reconciliation and NAIDOC week events at both campuses
Through several Woodleigh staff (and some families) we already have an informal connection with Chumkriel Language School, in Kampot. The first visit was in 2008 when a passionate teacher and her Tutor group raised money to build a hand washing facility and wrote letters to the students attending the school. Chumkriel had only just started as an English Language school in a very poor region of Kampot, near the salt fields. Since then the same teacher has been visiting every September and a number of teachers from both Minimbah and Senior Campus have visited and supported various projects, especially the teaching of English.
At this stage a detailed risk assessment is being finalised but the proposal would be to take a small number (no more than 8 Year 10 or 11 students) to primarily volunteer with Chumkriel Language School and the surrounding community.
The aim is to create an ongoing program that is primarily based on relationships, cultural awareness and service.