Discovery through International Exchange at YHS

Discovery through International Exchange at YHS

Michelle, Gr. 9, with her exchange partner, Georgia, in Australia (March 2018).

“I learned to trust my instincts” reflected a York House School student on her recent International Exchange experience in Australia in March of 2018. Michelle (Grade 9) travelled to Adelaide for one month to live with her exchange partner and family and to attend Seymour College. Shortly after arriving in Adelaide, Michelle’s exchange partner and family experienced the sad loss of an extended family member. Preparing for the funeral, the family kindly offered Michelle a choice to attend the service with them or to stay with a family friend for the afternoon. As Michelle reflected back on her decision, she explained, “I asked myself what I would have wanted if I were in my exchange partner’s shoes. I decided that I would want privacy, and so I stayed with the family friend for the afternoon to give my partner and her family the space to grieve and to be together. That was the right choice. And I realized then that I can trust my instincts.”

Sofia, Gr. 9, with exchange partner, Mia, in Australia (March 2018).

This is one gem of personal discovery of many quiet sorts that York House students make while on international exchange. Other students have expressed “feeling alive” through the experience, and growing in their confidence and independence by developing new insights about a local or global issue, overcoming feelings of homesickness, or communicating in Spanish with success with a host family at the dinner table. Adele discovered that she was stronger than she had previously thought by stretching outside of her comfort zone. Sofia, a second exchange student who journeyed to Adelaide this year, cherished making a new friend, Mia, and creating close relationships with her siblings – Hugo, aged six and Rory, aged twelve. As Sofia expressed, “I got along well with Mia’s parents, too. Living in a different household took a few days to adjust to, but after about a week, it felt like my home, and I didn’t want to leave.”

The aim of the program at YHS is for students to learn about themselves and the world through the experience of 1) hosting a visiting student for one month; 2) living with an exchange partner and attending school in another country for a month, and 3) reflecting on their growth. Currently, York House School offers this experience to ten Grade 9 students. Over the past two years, our program has grown from six to ten YHS student placements, and from three to five partner schools. YHS partners with two schools in England, two schools in Australia, and one school in Mexico. We understand that students and families are interested in having more of these opportunities, and we are in the process of expanding and diversifying these opportunities. Our commitment is to grow these partnerships with care to cultivate strong institutional relationships that support a safe and meaningful learning experience for students.

Tash, Alice, Georgina, and Frances at YHS (October 2017).

Over the years of exchange at YHS, students have expressed curiosity about the differences they encounter through their experiences with a new friend, family, school, and country. More often, however, they are struck what they have in common with others. Tash (Grade 9) shared her experiences with Alice from Abingdon, England: “When Alice first arrived in Vancouver, we were a bit awkward with one another, but by the last night in England we were up talking until two in the morning. There are differences in the ways we live and learn at school for sure. Tash laughed, “I say, ‘parkade’ and she says, ‘carpark’; I say ‘binder,’ and she says ‘folder.’ But we have so much in common: Alice and her friends talk about school, sports, …boys, and memes just like my friends and I do.”

Sabina and Mika, Gr. 9, at the YVR Airport with their families and Ms. McDonald, to meet Amelia and Erin from England (October 2017).

Students have the opportunity to cultivate relationships through the experience. In most cases, students develop a positive relationship with their exchange partners and create a special memory. In some cases, these relationships continue to grow and deepen well beyond the exchange experience. Elizabeth Duxbury, a parent of a student at King Edward VI School for Girls in Birmingham, England recently wrote this about hosting a York House student: “We all had a great time with Mika, who is our third daughter, and the girls’ second sister!” Rachel’s (Grade 11) connection with her Mexico exchange partner, Constanza, has grown into a family affair. Since Constanza’s arrival to Vancouver in 2016, members of both families have travelled to and from Mexico and Canada. This summer, Constanza and her brother will join Rachel and her family for some holiday time in British Columbia. As Rachel feels, “One of the best parts of this program, is that we’ve stayed really close to their family. It sounds cheesy, but this is a relationship that will last forever.”

Claire and Izzy (Gr. 9) with Arantxa and Dani and friends in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

We hope that the International Exchange experience inspires students to stretch intellectually, socially, and emotionally, and to realize that they can create their lives with confidence. Mika (Grade 9) expressed this aspiration in this way: “On exchange, I loved learning how to make strong bonds with people. What makes this and any experience powerful is the realization that we can decide whether and how to get the most out of a situation. It really is a personal choice to create a good time while you’re at it. That’s what I discovered. It really is about a mindset. What we get out of any situation depends on how we approach the experience. Wonderful things really are possible.”

Category: Senior School
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2017-18 Athletics Wrap Up & Goodbye to Our Graduating Tigers

Volleyball: Our Tigers Teams had great success highlighted by our Grade 8 Team winning ISAs and our Senior Team winning the AA Lower Mainland Championship and placing 5th in BC. We will dearly miss our graduating seniors Gabby and Madison.

Field Hockey: YHS Tigers had their best ever season in hockey both in success and participation.  We had three successful teams and our Varsity Team placed 3rd at the AA BCs. Our Grade 12s played a huge role in our success. Thank you to Aley, Meg, Anna, Alexi.

Swim Team: Tigers swimmers placed 2nd at the AA BCs and had a great season overall. With just one graduating Gr. 12, Jacqueline, the 2018-19 school year looks promising. Thank you Jacqueline for your contributions to our swim team. Also, thank you to our girls who competed in water polo with St. George’s in the spring season.

Cross-Country: Our small but strong team competed hard with three athletes competing at BCs including rising star Sophie, Gr. 8, who placed 4th overall in BC in the junior division.

Basketball: Our girls all competed hard but the highlights of the season were our Grade 8 Team who won our league title, won gold at ISAs, and were the first Tigers team ever to win the Grade 8 Provincial Championship. We say goodbye to three special Grade 12s: Maggie, Kristen, and Kyra.

Ski & Snowboard: YHS students are eager to join our Ski & Snowboard Team and compete at Whistler. Our team won another zone title and our top skiers went on to win a Provincial Championship. Our graduating star, Meg, has been a key part of our YHS Ski Team success over the years. Many other Grade 12s also take part and they include: Kyra, Annabelle, Michelle, and Haley.

Racket Sports: Badminton, tennis, and table tennis teams all represented YHS are various events. Badminton and tennis won bronze at ISAs while our table tennis players won the Provincial Championship thanks to the play of Isabelle, Laura, and Cindy (all Grade 9). Graduating this year are tennis star, Michelle, and badminton star Hannah.

Soccer: Our junior and senior soccer teams did well with both winning silver at ISAs. Our seniors lose some important players to graduation. Thank you to Meg, Alexi, Aley, Camryn, Sophia, Sarah, Alaina, and Justine.

Ultimate: This sport is as popular as ever at YHS as we field five teams. All teams did well with our Senior Varsity Team placing 6th at the AAA BCs while our Junior A Team and Senior B both placed well at Tier II BCs. We lose several players to graduation this year. Thank you to Maggie, Chantal, Justine, Kristine, Lindsay, Kyra, Camryn, Doris, Samantha, and Alexi.

Track & Field: Our small but talented and committed group of track athletes had a great season and performed well at zones and provincial championships. Made of up of students in our junior grades,  we can look forward to future successes for our Track Team.

Coaches: Thank you to our strong and committed staff of coaches this year who make all these experiences possible. Success, failure, hard work, commitment, fun, and frustration are all valuable experiences in athletics that prepare our students for their lives beyond the walls at YHS.

Student Athletes: Thank you to all YHS students who participated in athletics this season. All victories, big and small, are valued. All efforts and positive choices helped make the year special. One result this season, that may not seem important, was the strength of character and the values demonstrated by our YHS athletes. Our Junior Basketball Team’s 4th quarter comeback and overtime win over King George in the VGBA tournament, spearheaded by Grade 10s Jacqueline and Maddie, was one of the greatest victories of our athletic season. You can not underestimate the value of the quiet successes in sport. Many of the most significant accomplishments are not those recognized with trophies and banners but they play an enormous role in building strong character and teaching the most important lessons in life. Congratulations to all award winners who had very special years.

Athletic Heads: Final thank you to our ‘Athletic Squad’ (Mira, Hanna, and Jadyn) who did an amazing job and established the YHS Tigers presence on Instagram (@athleticsYHS).

Special THANK YOU to all photographers and especially, Mr. Jon Hayduk (on Instagram  as @jonhaydukphotography)

Category: Athletics, Senior School
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