South Korean exchange students are giving Miners Rest pupils a new perspective on their own lives

HOSTS: Miners Rest Primary School principal Dale Power, senior teacher Michael Searl  and pupils Lily and Joe take time out of class with exchange students Kate, Ju Yeon, and Harry from Sinmyeong Elementary School in Busan.
HOSTS: Miners Rest Primary School principal Dale Power, senior teacher Michael Searl and pupils Lily and Joe take time out of class with exchange students Kate, Ju Yeon, and Harry from Sinmyeong Elementary School in Busan.

Life couldn’t be more different from home for a group of South Korean pupils visiting the wide open spaces of Miners Rest.

The 13 pupils from Sinmyeong Elementary School in Busan, 325km south east of Seoul, are spending three weeks with host families from Miners Rest Primary School, sharing their culture with their new classmates.

Coming from Busan, the second biggest city in South Korea with a population of almost 3.5 million people, the town of Miners Rest and its farms and open landscapes are totally unlike their regular lives.

Miners Rest Primary School principal Dale Power said the exchange students had been embraced not just by their host families and the school, but the wider Miners Rest community.

It is the second group the school has hosted from its sister school, and later this year a group of students and teachers from Miners Rest will travel to Busan to spend time at Sinmyeong Elementary School.

“It’s profound the effect it has on our community, the communication and the opportunities as global citizens it presents for our students who get to see and experience another part of the world,” Mr Power said.

All government schools must offer an Asian language, and the pupils of Miners Rest learn Korean.

“We ran Mandarin but it wasn’t sustainable for us and was hard to get staff. The Korean consulate was very prominent with their approach to the school and have supported us with resources and student teachers making it far more sustainable for us,” Mr Power said.

The exchange group spend four days a week at school, enjoy excursions on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and spend time with their host families on Sundays.

Mr Power said the exchange program was a big eye-opener for Miners Rest students, especially those who travelled to South Korea.

“We had eight students go on the first tour and they embraced everything – the culture, food and experience.”

Having exchange students attend school also helps the cultural learning of all Miners Rest pupils.

“It helps our students understand how fortunate we are. We are called the lucky country and it proves as much as our visitors enjoy their experiences.