Opening hearts & homes | Central Coast Grammar School

Opening hearts & homes

Developing intercultural and global competencies is becoming increasingly important in our personal and professional lives. The benefits of our international exchange programs span all subject areas and ages across the school. When our students return from exchange they bring a level of cultural diversity back into the classroom. When our visitors arrive and learn and interact alongside CCGS students, it culturally enriches the entire school community.

Japanese students performing
Visiting students perform a Japanese dance for the entire school.

Three CCGS families share their rewarding, and sometimes surprising experience of opening their homes and their hearts to visiting students from Japan and China.

The Hofer family and Haruka from Ueda Nishi School, Japan.

I couldn’t believe just how much, and how quickly, we became attached to our house guest. Hosting a student from Japan allowed us to become cultural ambassadors and ‘show off’ Australia and the Central Coast. In the process, we gained a whole new appreciation of our own community and way of life. We came to understand that some of the basic things we take for granted are a rarity for some.

Initially, we were a little nervous that Haruka was going to end up bored in our home given that our children were not of a similar age group, but that was a worry over nothing! The different ages did not matter at all, and it was lovely to see our two children interacting so naturally with her, and vice versa. Both our kids felt like they had another sibling and learned a lot about Japanese culture. In return, they loved sharing more about Australia and our way of life with her.

Our children learnt a lot from Haruka, and she was truly living the day-to-day experience of the typical Australian family – juggling sport, different meals choices, and different family dynamics, which were all new and valuable experiences for her - Michaela Hofer

The Coney Family and Weu Zepeng from Jingyuan School, China

The experience of having a young stranger in our house who obviously had to adapt a bit to our culture while we had to understand his, was an enjoyable and educational experience.

Although he was only with us five days, to see how visibly sad he was at leaving was a testament to the success of the program and to the strong bonds that formed between Weu and our son, Matthew (Year 9).

Hosting is a great experience for everyone - especially the visiting student. Staying with a local family is an essential part of the entire experience.

Naturally, the more the host family engages with the experience, the more everyone will get out of it. Getting a mutual taste of Australian/international life, and learning how typical families go about their everyday life in a different culture is incredibly enriching and is all part of what makes hosting such an engaging and highly recommended experience for everyone.

family with exchange student
The Coney family with Weu Zepeng
The Pearce Family and Masayuki from Ueda Nishi School, Japan

As a family with younger children, Masayuki brought a completely different energy into our home, and it was fascinating to have a teenager in the house for the first time.

The gifts we received from Japan were a source of fascination for us, especially for our eight-year-old daughter Ruby. The unique range of exotic foods and sweets Masayuki shared were new to anything we’d tried before and gave our kids a glimpse of the world beyond the Central Coast.

One of the most unexpected surprises for us was the opportunity to meet a range of other CCGS families who were also hosting students and whom we may not have ever had the chance to meet. It was so nice for us to make some new friends outside our peer group and we all bonded over the shared experience.

While the language barrier was a little tricky at times, it wasn’t much of an issue at all. What we couldn’t communicate in words, we did through music, dancing and mime - which the kids loved.

Children making origami
Origami lesson with Masayuki