Adventure of a lifetime…
Back in 2017, my wee family of 3 took on an adventure of a lifetime. We went to Perth, Western Australia so I could partake in one-year teaching exchange. We packed our bags for the year, exchanged homes and jobs with another teacher from Australia. I have always wanted to try teaching abroad and at that time the Canadian Educators Exchange Foundation (CEEF) made this dream a reality.
This experience was life-changing and eye-opening in so many ways.
I arrived at my new school north of Perth, WA in February 2017 as the “Canadian” teacher. The teaching exchange was the best PD I experienced. It was not easy, in fact teaching in a new country, new school, new students and curriculum was a steep learning curve. In some ways, both educational systems are similar in regards to speaking English and subjects such as English, Math and Science. My class of year 3/4 (age 9 & 10) students were in awe with the way I spoke and did things differently and in return I was in awe with them. I learned greatly from my school and class that year.
The benefits beyond teaching…
But as much a teaching exchange benefits me and my immediate school community, it was an amazing experience for my family.
My son enrolled in pre-primary at a school near our home. My husband got to know the parents of the friends my son met that year. We gathered for play dates, fundraisers and barbecues. We felt like we belonged to the school community. Our neighbours adopted us, the Canadian family, into their community. Now even though we are worlds apart with a great big ocean between us, we manage to stay connected and neighbourly in this global community.
A Global Community
The exchange itself doesn’t just impact the teacher who goes on exchange, there is an impact for everyone we interact with. Having an exchange teacher in a school is like having a year-long team building exercise for the staff of the schools.
I still keep in touch with my students I taught, and I know for some of them on Canada Day they will remember the “Canadian” things we did. When the Toronto Raptors made it into the NBA finals, some cheered on the Raptors just because they once had a Canadian teacher and come next summer Olympics in 2020, yes they would cheer on their own athletes but some of them will also cheer on the Canadian athletes, and these conversations will continue and get passed on to their friends and family.
Since returning home, my experience in Australia has helped me gain a wider perspective teaching back on Canadian soil. I have a new sense of confidence and resiliency that I gained from the teaching exchange. My current students love hearing the stories and making connections between Canada and Australia. And many of them ask about their once Aussie teacher who exchanged with me, as she also made a positive impact in our school community.
This exchange has given us a global network of people that we stay connected with for a lifetime.
Your support is needed for this program to continue…
Unfortunately in June 2019, CEEF stated they will no longer offer the Educator Exchange program.
“CEEF has been honoured to offer Reciprocal Educator Exchanges dating back to 1991. However, we regret that effective September 1, 2019, we will no longer offer this Educator Exchange Program. Please note that teachers already matched for the period from September, 2019 to June, 2021 will continue to be supported by CEEF until the end of their exchange.”
Losing such a program is a travesty for meaningful learning opportunities for educators and education in Canada.
“CEEF has exchanged teachers from within our country and with other countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand, Germany, United States, Denmark, Spain, and Switzerland. Organizations affording this opportunity become a part of an international network of educational authorities looking outward to become active global citizens and to strengthen educational systems.”
This program enriches educators and educational systems. As an educator I became the ambassador of Canada on the world stage and I came back with new ideas to enrich Canadian students and the teaching profession.
If you find this program valuable, please take a moment to sign this petition to save the Canadian Exchange program for educators:
As well as signing the petition, you can also forward a letter of support to Canadian Teachers for Educational Exchanges, a group of volunteers who feel passionately about the teacher exchange program at firstname.lastname@example.org to help in our efforts to keep the exchange program alive.
You can also join the conversation in our Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/CdnExchangeTeachers