Leweston has welcomed students from across the globe since it opened its doors in 1891. Founded by a Belgian order, the Religious of Christian Instruction, many of the early pupils were from France and Belgium but our reach has expanded and in the past five years we have welcomed pupils from 19 different countries representing six of the seven continents. Our Head of English as an Additional Language, Mrs Taylor, writes about the impact that these students have on our community and the importance of being part of the ‘global village’.
When I think about our international students they embody the typical Leweston student, in that they get involved with varied opportunities and play a big part in the community life of the school. They work hard at their subjects and it always astounds me that they are doing all of this in a second or third language while thousands of miles away from home.
Looking around the School our international pupils are a visible part of the busy Leweston community. In Sixth Form they take on leadership roles in our prefect team, this year in the position of Deputy Head Prefect, Head of House, Boarding Prefects, International Prefect and Sacristan. They speak in the Chemistry Symposia, take part in Public Speaking competitions and are involved in Music and Drama groups. They frequently serve in Mass, play in sports matches and, last year, were part of the Leweston team at the Sherborne TEDxevent.
In addition to all this our international pupils are internal ambassadors for language learning and have run various language teaching clubs for other students. They are generous about sharing their culture and traditions during Chinese New Year, International Day, Cinco de Mayo and other festivals throughout the year.
One of the most powerful elements of our annual Carol Service is the International Prayer, when students read together in their native languages, which over the years has included Mandarin, Cantonese, Thai, Japanese, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Polish and Welsh.
In this way our international students are role models for the Leweston Learner characteristics – it takes a lot of determination and confidence for them to even be here and their resilience in practising a new language all day every day is remarkable. They take all the learning opportunities put in front of them and are often successful in gaining places at top universities, but beyond that I particularly celebrate those who follow a dream going to the right university for them, for example to study Art or Media.
Being part of a global community opens minds, it raises questions that you didn’t know you had, it offers opportunities and challenges prejudices. It is sometimes difficult and therefore forces you to try a little harder, be a little braver or act a little kinder in the way you respond to people. These are essential skills for a globalised world.
Mrs Taylor, Head of EAL