Hospitality and Courage Create a Home Away from Home

Hospitality and Courage Create a Home Away from Home

Mercy Light: Connecting

Cultural richness and diversity bring many benefits to learning communities like St Aloysius College. Exposure to different customs, traditions, arts and foods helps young people to think and imagine far beyond the classroom walls and develop a sense of curiosity.

Study Tour and Cultural Immersion opportunities are offered to students in senior years, enabling them to travel the extra mile and explore some of the world’s most unique and enduring societies.

These global experiences are facilitated by teams of staff with a range of expertise, and all equipped with equal passion for the countries they guide students through. Within the last year, SAC students and staff have stood beneath the spire of the Eiffel Tower in France, listened to the peal of church bells on the streets of Rome, and enjoyed moments of quiet contemplation inside the world’s largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur, in Indonesia.

Ms Jane Mahar coordinates Languages, International Study Tours and Exchanges at SAC, and has recently led Cultural Immersions and Study Tours to France and Italy. A fluent speaker and teacher of both languages, Jane has travelled to both countries with students many times throughout her teaching career, enabling them to experience a blend of tourist activities, and everyday living with members of the local community.

Chelsi in Year 12 has been studying Italian for almost 13 years, and says that a highlight was seeing Pope Francis in Rome, something she, “had never dreamed,” she would do.  

Chelsi also says, “I was excited to experience a family farm-stay in Umbria. We felt so welcomed and at home and I really enjoyed the cooking we did there. I enjoyed speaking with the family in Italian. It was a special opportunity and an adventure like no other.”

Umbria is known as the Green Heart of Italy because of its lush, rolling landscape in the country. This experience of staying with an Italian family on their property gave students reprieve from the business of the major cities and time to bond and reflect.

“The scenery was amazing!” says Scarlett in Year 11. “I’ve always been one to admire the little things in life, the trees, sunlight, colours, the sound of water in the stream, everything! Being in such beauty all the time made me realise how lucky I am to be born, and how lucky I am to be me.”

Ms Mahar, and her co-leaders, Ms Nicoletta Romanelli and Ms Rosa Frezza, agree that one of the most rewarding parts of their time in Italy was seeing the growth and maturation of students.

“They’ve engaged in life beyond Adelaide,” Ms Frezza says, “and stepping outside of your comfort zone takes courage.”

Courage is of course one of SAC’s core values. Ms Julie Barletta, Ms Demi Williams and Ms Jo Tapp recently returned from Indonesia with a number of students, and they echo these sentiments. Ms Barletta has observed that, when students arrive in Indonesia, they are usually, “a bit challenged by what they see,” as it is still a developing country, but that, “the hospitality of the people, their humility and kindness towards us,” are the essence of a life-changing cultural experience.

Alana in Year 11 was eager to participate in the Indonesia Study Tour, having learnt the language for one year and appreciating that the country is a close neighbour to Australia. Alana says that, as a result of her time there, she, “appreciates the culture and the language so much more having met and interacted with Indonesian people firsthand.”

Empathy is the invaluable gift of cultural exchange; a gift that keeps giving.

“Still being young, students may not realise the impact immediately, but experiences like this plant a seed for when they are older,” shares Ms Frezza. “I was speaking to students in the school yard and one said, “you know, Signora, I realise now how fortunate we are and how special ‘home’ is.”

Learning languages can open doors for students beyond school – in fact, Ms Williams, who co-led this year’s tour to Indonesia, was taught by Ms Barletta while she was an SAC student.

“When I was a student, Ms Barletta helped to ignite my love of languages, and I wanted to do that for young people too. Now, as a Languages teacher, I can help students to understand that it is a key to unlocking doors of understanding,” Ms Williams shares.

Cultural Immersions and Study Tours are open to students in older year levels, but through engaging with Languages studies in primary years, younger students can look forward to these opportunities in the future.

Ms Maddie Kelly
Marketing & Communications Team