By Shaun Mccabe
Every school has certain “coming of age” moments: when it graduates its first matric class, when it can claim an impressive entrance waiting list, when its first teams compete with the best, and indeed, when it has international exposure.
The international programmes at Clifton College, in Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, have developed slowly, with our first international foray being attendance at a youth summit in India in 2006. Early steps saw the programmes we offer develop into two major areas: first, the aforementioned youth summits; and second, exchanges.
Clifton a regular at global youth summits
Currently, Clifton participates in four international youth leadership summits across the world: in the United States (US), Singapore, France and India. These summits, hosted by our partner schools in these four nations, typically see a number of school delegations from around the world interact through discussions, workshops and guest speakers on a number of global issues. A lot of work is put into preparing for the various dialogues at these summits. In addition, delegates are expected to perform a dance or song, and showcase their school and country in a cultural display. Schools in the host city also ensure that delegates are given the opportunity to sightsee. To date, Clifton delegates have had the opportunity to stand in front of the Taj Mahal, walk the beaches of the Normandy landings,1 marvel at the city-state of Singapore and stand on the spot at the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King Jr delivered his “I have a dream” speech.2 Firm friendships are forged at these summits, with the Clifton delegates remaining in contact with their hosts for years after – made easy with social media.
Certainly, the teacher chaperones who accompany the delegations are also able to benefit from the unique international experiences and by bringing back innovative ideas from global contexts, which are applied in the Clifton classrooms.
Grabbing the trip of a lifetime
The second aspect of Clifton’s global presence is the more traditional exchanges. Clifton boys have the opportunity to attend a foreign school for three or four weeks. These exchanges throw up many exciting challenges: usually a different language, a new culture and being hosted by a local family far removed from their own daily lives here in Durban. The reciprocal nature of these exchanges sees the school and our families host foreign students, enabling them to be part of the Clifton experience. The aim is to partner with schools that are likeminded in size, ethos and diversity. To date, we have developed exchange programme relationships with Moreton Bay Boys’ College in Brisbane, Australia, as well as St George’s College and Northlands School, both in Argentina. The exchange programme will grow into the United Kingdom and Mexico in the years to come.
Creating a global footprint
All the boys who have returned from a summit or an exchange talk effusively about it being a “life-changing” experience. And, indeed, it is, as both parents and teachers remark that these boys return with a greater sense of maturity and an understanding of their place in the world.
So, as one group returns from the US and another prepares for Singapore, Clifton can truly claim to have a global footprint with partner schools on each continent.
1. See, for example: https://www.dday.org/history/d-day-theinvasion/overview.html.
2. See, for example: http://www.biography.com/people/martin-luther-king-jr-9365086.
Category: Spring 2016