The Harker School’s global education and performing arts departments were thrilled to warmly welcome more than two dozen students who recently visited from Saint Stephen’s College, a college preparatory independent school located on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.
Accompanied by three chaperones, the group of 25 performing arts students were at Harker from Sept. 22-26. After spending their first weekend upon arrival checking in at a nearby hotel and going on an all-day tour of San Francisco, they got off to a bright and early start Monday morning at Harker. Their first day here began with an early breakfast in the upper school’s bistro followed by a tour of the campus.
The group’s packed performing arts itinerary included visits to Harker’s theater, music, choreography and acting classes, as well as a special observation of a rehearsal of the fall play, “Hamlet,” followed by dinner.
According to Jennifer Walrod, Harker’s director of global education, the visit went extremely well and was part of a larger performing arts tour of the United States that the Australian exchange students and their chaperones were taking.
“They had spent six days in New York City before coming to San Jose for five days, with their tour ending down in Los Angeles. They enjoyed visiting a wide variety of performing arts classes here at Harker, as well as attending regular classes to see how the American educational system works,” she said.
Especially gratifying to Walrod was the fact that numerous performing arts students at Harker helped out with the visit, accompanying Saint Stephen’s students for breakfast and lunch, escorting them to and from classes, and even joining them for a fun night out shopping and dining at Santana Row.
During the past decade, Harker has enjoyed a warm relationship and mutually beneficial exchange program with Saint Stephen’s College. Last year, Ruth Meyer, an upper school history teacher, spent two weeks in Australia at the college as part of that year’s teacher exchange program. Meyer spent most of her time teaching freshman history and junior English to the school’s students, who she said were like Harker students in that, “they are happy, helpful and enjoy school.” English teacher Jennifer Siraganian enjoyed the exchange this past summer (see Harker Quarterly, fall 2012).
“We have also hosted two previous summer upper school trips where students visited Saint Stephen’s, attended their weeklong leadership retreat, and stayed in homestays. Plus their exchange students and teachers always visit our middle and lower schools to read stories and talk about Australian history,” added Walrod.