Internationalism | Caulfield Grammar School

Nanjing Campus

Internationalism Program
Nanjing, People’s Republic of China

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The school’s Internationalism Program, based at its Nanjing Campus in China, provides around 300 Year 9 students each year with the unique experience of living and learning in another country for five weeks.

The Nanjing Campus, which opened in 1998, was the first international campus for an Australian school.

The Internationalism Program recognises your child will not only be a citizen of Australia but a citizen of the world, enjoying many opportunities to live and work in countries other than their own.

Our belief is that the most effective means for preparing students to meet that challenge is through the intensive study of another language and culture, including a period of immersion in that culture.

In establishing the campus in China, Caulfield Grammar School has chosen a partner country which will have a profound influence on the evolution of the global community in the coming century – politically, culturally and, particularly, economically. Caulfield Grammar School is proud to be part of the conceptual re-positioning and engagement of Australia within the Asian region.

In Nanjing, from our own purpose-built facility, students undertake a structured program of five interrelated themes: heritage, work, family, education and environment. Students are provided with opportunities to come to know Chinese students and their families through our link with Nanjing Middle School (the high school affiliated with Normal University, one of the key schools in China), and to learn about the patterns of their daily lives. They are able to experience the city of Nanjing and its culture first-hand, and also undertake excursions to Beijing, Shanghai and Tongli.

The program fosters personal independence through active learning in a different setting. Students acquire many practical skills associated with living, learning and operating in an unfamiliar cultural environment. The Internationalism Program also allows participants to learn a great deal about themselves and when necessary, modify their existing culture paradigm through their close encounter with another culture and language.

Networked computers allow students to undertake research tasks and stay in touch with family and friends.

For those who elect not to spend time in Nanjing, a unit of study based in Melbourne is designed to provide opportunities to understand Australia’s global connections and patterns of cultural, economic, social and environmental activity.

Here is what some of our Year 9 students say about the Internationalism Program in China

As my groups tour in China comes to a close, so too does an era in my life filled with a rich knowledge of the culture in a country so unlike Australia. In this time I have had a chance to grow and express myself and my true personality.

At the beginning of the trip we set ourselves personal, room and group goals to work towards and attempt to achieve. These consisted mainly of developing skills such as being a person people can confide in, rely on and for all the girls to get along without too much friction between them. Now I see that the latter was non-vital as although you can have severe personality clashes with some people, you can learn to live with everyone and put up with the idiosyncrasies that irritate you most. For now as we comprehend that we will not be seeing one another 24 hours daily we realise that we are now bonded more deeply with a sense of being a team rather than individuals. Overall I think that all the goals I set for myself I fulfilled.

Over the past five weeks I feel that I have opened my eyes to a completely different side of the world to that which I knew about. Being able to have the opportunity to live in a completely different culture has made me realise more about the complex world in which we live that I take up a tiny part of. I have begun to appreciate alternate ways of life, to participate in cultural customs and most of all to understand why the Chinese have the beliefs that they do and how much you have to respect that; even if you do not fully understand why. That summarizes what would be the biggest lesson that I have learnt the hard way over here and I know that it will be with me for life.

When, after I return home, as the weeks since I left China turn into months, then into years I will know that those five weeks out of my life will be ones in which I have changed and grown as a person in many ways. I have improved skills in many areas such as leadership, navigation, Chinese speaking, understanding and most of all I have learnt the value of life and living it to the full. Because travelling overseas is what you make of it and getting involved and trying to live as an open-minded local rather than an ignorant foreigner is really the key to learning all about the ways in which others live. Finally I would like to close with a quote which to me portrays the lessons which I have learnt in China.

“Success is never final,
Failure is never fatal,
Courage always counts.”

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I got off the bus outside the campus I had heard so much about. Being so tired after a long day of travelling, it took a while for the reality to sink in. I was in China, at the beginning of what has turned out to be the biggest adventure of my life. Never having been out of Australia before, this was a big step for me.

Inside the campus – our little piece of Australia within China – I had to learn to take care of myself. As I am a youngest child, I’ve always had not only a mother and father to look out for me, but an older brother and sister too. I had to do my own washing, get myself to places on time, and tell myself to go to sleep, and ask myself if I was feeling well. I actually survived quite easily, taking care of myself, becoming independent. Apart from looking out for myself, I had to look out for my fellow group members too. We all had to do some quick growing up, putting the petty worries of childhood behind us, and getting on with each other.

Living in this kind of environment, always having people around you can be very hard. There were times I had to get away from it all, take time out to dance or read or just do nothing. But I feel I managed to get on well with those around me. I met a lot of new people, and became very close to some of them. I tried to help others out if they needed a hand.

Outside the campus we were thrown into a world that was very different to the one we knew. At first I thought I could never settle in. Things like spitting, crowding, and squat toilets grossed me out at times. But as I began to get used to it all, I realized that the Chinese are not that different to us. They were all so friendly. There were days I just wanted to go and hug every Chinese person I saw.

The world outside held many challenges. Being renowned for my non-existent sense of direction, I was terrified of navigating the group home from the Yangtze River Bridge. But one of the best moments of the trip was when we rode safely in the gates of the campus. I was often called on for my language skills, which I now more than ever want to improve.

Walking around the streets of China, I was constantly confronted by the effects of Chinese politics. It was sometimes hard: not being able to talk about certain things or do certain things in certain places; learning about a religion so different from my own, and seeing how it affects the Chinese way of life.

I realized that although China is a long way from Australia, there were still things that made me feel at home. Things like trees, sky and little children. It may sound strange, but little things like these made me feel that this country was not completely foreign, and I could feel that I belonged.

China challenged me, and I would like to think that I accepted the challenge with open arms. I loved getting involved in experiencing this part of our world. I saw, heard, touched, and tasted China. I don’t know if I’m a different person because of it, but I know that I’ve done something that I would never have even dreamed of five years ago. I was given the chance of a lifetime, and I hope I can say that I put in as much as I got out.

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Over the past five weeks I have learnt many things about myself. Before coming to China a friend gave me a book of poems and one was called ‘It’s all in the state of mind’. This poem became my guide for the trip.

I knew that as long as I told myself that I could do something, then I would. This really helped me on the trip. During the times when I was finding something really difficult or tough, I would just say to myself in my head that I could do it and most of the time I did.

One of the greatest challenges I faced in Nanjing was no doubt bike riding. The thought of having to ride on the streets of Nanjing was petrifying. I can remember the first time we rode our bikes I spent the majority of the time lagging behind, ages away from the group. At that point I thought that my trip would be ruined because I was struggling to ride. I decided that if I wanted to have a good time, then I would have to do something about the bike-riding situation. Every outing we had on the bikes, I set myself a goal. I didn’t achieve my goals straight away but every time I got more and more confident until eventually I was able to achieve them. In the end it turned out that bike riding became rather enjoyable and not a scary experience.

The most confronting thing I found about this experience is that you realise that in a way you are your own best friend. I learned that nothing and no one is going to make you happy, unless you want to make yourself happy to start with. The most valuable lesson I gained was that being happy within yourself is the key to life, because when you’re happy with yourself, you can achieve anything and solve any problem that arises.

The China programme has well and truly been the experience of a lifetime for me. Not only have I learned a lot about myself, but I have also learned a lot about China. Learning about China and the history of China was in itself one of the highlights of the trip. My proudest achievement is that I can come away from this trip with no regrets. I don’t regret anything I did or anything I didn’t do. It was an unforgettable and life changing experience.

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Before I arrived in Nanjing, I was very nervous. Maybe more nervous than a lot of other students. I had not had a very good history when it came to getting on with teachers and when Nanjing came around, a whole lot of people were nervous about me coping there. I was threatened about it, told to shape up, really just told to fix up my act. It was a great boost for me when I got on the plane, because I realized that I had made it and I could keep up my decent behaviour.

I was also nervous because I’d been told that I was given a fresh new start, but I found it hard to believe. I was so glad when I arrived and most of the teachers were really outgoing and had no idea who I was. I was very relieved. One challenge out of the way.

At first, I was surprised by how much work we had to do with all the sites we visited. I kind of got used to it though. The impact of population didn’t really hit me until I hopped on the bus for the first time and realized just how populated Nanjing was. I’m still surprised by the tolerance Chinese people have for each other.

The only times I felt homesick was when I had conflicts with teachers and I’d wish my parents were there to help me cope. I suppose that this has made me very independent though. I don’t think I had any trouble with friends. I fitted in well with everyone and they all seemed to like me.

Home-stay was very good, At first, I thought I’d start comparing my partner’s home to my home, but when I arrived, his apartment was just as good as my house. They had all the facilities I had, if not more. The experience was good but the food was something else in itself.

I didn’t want to go on the overnight train trip but when we split into groups and actually got on, I got all excited and enthusiastic.

Shanghai was fantastic. I loved it. I really thought that even though we had to do everything ourselves, I still got so much out of it. People may say that Nanjing may not have matured them or made them independent, but I just think they probably haven’t realized it yet. I know I have.