KGGS has run exchange programmes for many years and we have deep-seated connections with our friends abroad. These cultural exchanges are not only an excellent way of improving language skills through immersion, but a unique opportunity to experience a foreign culture first-hand through the eyes of a host family, seeing beneath the surface a tourist would experience and gaining a true understanding of a country.
We have run a French Exchange to Angers since 2000, and with Collège Jean Zay in Montreuil-Juigné since 2012. The exchange is run for students in Year 9 and usually takes place in June.
It provides an excellent opportunity not only for girls to improve their language skills by immersing themselves in a foreign country, but to broaden their horizons through an experience of true French culture that can only be gained from living with a native family.
As well as spending time with their exchange family and attending lessons in the exchange school, trips within France include visits to Puy du Fou re-enactment park, Fontevraud Abbey and Angers Castle. Many of the girls remain in contact and develop life-long friendships with their exchange partner.
The German exchange has been running for fifteen years. Our partner school is the St. Adelheid Gymnasium in Bonn, a girls' grammar school similar to KGGS. This exchange is for Year 9 students and usually takes place in June. The German group then visit us in the autumn, usually at the end of September/beginning of October.
While we are in Germany, our excursions include a visit to a medieval castle called Burg Eltz, a guided tour of the Haus der Geschichte in Bonn which gives an insight into post-war German history, a tour of the old centre of Cologne and of the chocolate museum (with a tasting session) and a visit to a typical wine cellar on the banks of the Moselle, where we learn about wine growing and making and taste some wine (a very small amount!) and grape juice. The girls also spend half a day attending lessons in our partner school. Evenings and weekends are spent with the host families.
The trip gives the students the opportunity to practise their language skills and to experience German culture and hospitality first-hand.
In 1993 Celia Whiting and Councillor Wheat began an exchange programme with Minami High School from Fukushima, Japan. In the following 21 years, hundreds of KGGS students have been led by numerous staff in this sought after exchange that has helped to continue our long-standing friendship with Minami High School.
Each year a group of students and staff from Minami High School travel to Britain and stay with host families of KGGS students and staff. The students value the experience of living with a British family and immersing themselves in British culture and traditions. During their stay they complete a school project on a current issue – in recent years this has focused on energy sources. To enhance their studies, we include taught lessons where possible. In recent years, Miss Colley has taught students about renewable energy sources and Mrs Snookes always teaches a baking lesson; the treats from which are always enjoyed! Students then tour some of the delights of Lincolnshire, including meeting the Mayor in Grantham, Lincoln Castle & Cathedral, Stamford and recent favourite Skegness!
During the Easter holidays, a group of KGGS students and staff then visit Japan. In previous years this has involved a direct exchange with host families in Fukushima. The 2011 disaster had led to the exchange moving to Tokyo temporarily. Since then students and staff have visited Tokyo for ten days and the spa town of Hakone for three. The itinerary for the trip is action packed, providing students with the opportunity to experience as much as possible. During our time in Tokyo we visit cultural sites that provide an insight in to Japan’s rich heritage such as the Meiji Shrine, the Edo Museum, Roppongi Hills and the Sensō-ji temple situation next to our accommodation. This is coupled with experiencing the modern delights of Tokyo including the bustling Shibuya scramble crossing, Akihabara technology centre, Harajuku station and Disneyland Tokyo!
If you are interested in taking part in this historic exchange at any level, please see Japanese Exchange Coordinator Mrs White for more information.