Greenbank MS exchange to S. Korea

Greenbank MS Grade 8’s prepare for exchange to S. Korea
 In keeping with the cross-cultural and educational focus of the student exchange, the South Korean students were introduced to the Canadian system of government with a special visit to the Parliament of Canada hosted by both Senator Yonah Martin and MP Chandra Arya (both pictured in photo) who co-chair the Canada-Korea Interparliamentary Friendship Group. Greenbank MS students and their Korean student exchange partners pose in front of the Speaker’s dias in “the Red Chamber” along with Principal Dennis Paré (center) and the and the teacher chaperones.

"A primary goal is to start the students thinking about global awareness... this expeirnece is equipping our kids with what they will need down the road."
- Dennis Pare, Principal, Greenbank Middle School


 Upon arrival at the Ottawa International Airport, the South Korean students and their chaperones were welcomed by the students of Greenbank Middle School with Principal Dennis Paré (back row, centre) and Trustee Donna Blackburn (front row, right) holding an OCSDB flag

Students, staff and host families welcomed a group of students from Changwon, South Korea, last autumn, and now 16 students and 2 staff members and the principal from Greenbank Middle School are busy preparing for the reciprocal part of the student exchange, taking place for 10 days during the first half of April.

The key initiator of the South Korean student exchange is Greenbank MS Principal Dennis Paré who participated in a similar type of exchange in the early 1990’s when he was a high school student at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School . Mr. Paré describes his high school exchange to South Korea as a “life-changing” event, and seeks to foster a similar experience in the students from Greenbank MS though organizing this trip with the purpose of developing “global awareness and the importance of international exposure for students and the seed it plants in them.” In part, the educational excursion to South Korea was also inspired by the educational exchange that Glashan PS took to China last year.

When the South Korean students visited Canada last year, the school community rallied to provide many opportunities for the Korean students to participate in Canadian culture. Host families were excited to have the opportunity to get to know the Korean students and teacher chaperones. Efforts were made to provide a balance between time spent with the Canadian families and time when the whole group of students would go on excursions around the Ottawa area. The host parents used a Facebook page to coordinate activities and ensure that the Korean students had a rich and engaging cultural exchange.

By partnering each of the 16 Greenbank students with a Korean exchange student, many friendships were made through families hosting the Korean students in their homes. In April, when the Greenbank MS students travel to South Korea, these same Grade 8 students will be reunited with their South Korean partners. By staying with a host family, the Canadian students will learn about Korean family life and culture in a way that is not possible if the students stayed in a hotel as a group.

In preparation for the trip the students and their parents, and the staff chaperones, have learned about Korean culture and language, reviewed safety protocols, and been assisted with cultural awareness opportunities by representatives from the Korean Embassy in Ottawa, as well as support from OCENET’s Executive Director Geoff Best and International Education Co-ordinator Kathy Scheepers.

The Grade 8 students from Greenbank MS will attend the host Korean school for some of their stay, and visit local landmarks and historic sites. The itinerary potentially includes a visit to a Buddhist temple and to a Korean baseball game, among many other activities. Near the end of the educational tour, the Greenbank students and chaperones will have a couple of days to explore Seoul, with visits to Mt. Namsan’s Seoul Tower, historic Hanok Village, and Lotte World Park.

While there are always challenges and significant time commitments required in organizing a trip of this nature, Principal Denis Paré thinks it is all more than worth the effort for its value in enhancing global awareness by “equipping our students with what they’ll need down the road.”

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