More than 60 Bendigo South East College students are packing their bags as they set off across the globe on exchange programs.
Twenty students are headed to Haimen today, one of Bendigo’s sister cites, for a six-week trip and will spend the first two weeks taking part in the Victorian Young Leaders to China Sister School Exchange Program.
Alex Gilmore is one student setting off to China and said it was her first time overseas.
“I’m just excited to improve my Chinese,” she said.
Fellow student William Mandersloot is also taking part in the trip and said he was looking forward to being immersed in the culture.
“I think there’s no better way to learn a language than just being surrounded in it and just trying all the different food and everything that is different from here,” he said.
“I’m just excited to see what their country is like.”
Former BSE teacher Tan See Tuang initiated the exchange program three years ago and will be going with the students this year as well.
He said the trip was not just about the languages or the music, but about personal growth for the students.
“All the parents have commented, especially with the six-week program, how different their child has become when they come back,” he said.
“They’re more considered, less self-centred and more resilient.”
Twelve students have already set off for Germany, with another 10 heading to Indonesia this weekend. Next week, 25 students will also join three other Bendigo schools and head to the UK for the strings and choir music and educational tour.
Year 10 student Joelle Colliver is off to Indonesia and said she was excited to visit the Bina Bangsa International school in Semarang as well their host family.
“I’m really looking forward to going with the host family because I had a host come over last year and I really had fun having her here,” she said.
Acting principal Dale Pearce said students and teachers had spent many hours fundraising for the trips and it was a collaborative approach between them, their families and the community.
“We’re all excited about them experiencing new adventures,” he said.
“Having the opportunity to travel and be immersed in a new culture is part of being a global citizen.”