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Teacher Exchange - You won’t be sorry! QIEU member Clare Parker is a 2006 exchange teacher to Canada. Clare encourages teachers to participate in exchange, in her words ‘You won’t be sorry’. What an amazing year I have had. It is October and for the last 9 months I have been on an exchange program to Peterborough, Ontario Canada. I have been teaching for only 6 years now. I was a late starter as I am now in my 50s and started working at St Brigid's School Nerang as a teacher's aide about 12 years back. I worked with many teachers in their rooms and one teacher in particular had just returned from an exchange from Scotland. At the time I thought what a wonderful way for teachers to travel the world. At this time I was in my very early years of studying, but I thought if I ever became a teacher I would do the same. So here I am. And as I said it has been an amazing year. Arrival After a very long flight my husband and I arrived tired but also very excited. We stayed in Toronto overnight and our community support couple came and picked us up to take us to Peterborough about 2 hours away. As we travelled closer to the town the snow got thicker and thicker. They had a very heavy fall the day before so there was plenty of snow to greet us. Our exchange parents were at the house to meet us and gave us the grand tour.

plates. To get the insurance you have to have a driving history in Ontario. The whole ordeal took 6 weeks. But at the end we got a great car and it has taken us all over Ontario. Rob has driven me in all kinds of weather, from freezing rain, snowing, raining and of course lovely sunny days. School The staff at the school were all very supportive. The custodian drove me to work each day until we sorted out our car. I must say starting at 6.45am did take its toll on me. I found walking into another teacher's room very daunting. I felt for 2 weeks all I did was look for things. You really find out what you can and can't do in some situations. The children were great. I used to know right away when I had used a word or phrase they didn't understand. A blank glaze would cover their faces. Canadians celebrate everything. There is Valentines Day, Ground Hog Day, Easter (of course), all the seasons, Thanksgiving Day and Halloween. All which needs to be covered in your class.

That afternoon we had a knock on the door and one of our neighbours, who was also the custodian for the school greeted us with a huge bag of salt and a bottle of wine. The wine I knew what to do with but the salt..... well it is good to melt snow off the driveway....

Clare Parker, visiting Quebec

The Parker’s exchange home – flying the flag

The expectations of the children are much higher here than in Australia. I had to work on that myself. Report time is very stressful as everyone is on a dead line and they are much more involved than I am use to. Then comes the parent interviews...

Vehicle Our biggest hurdle was purchasing a car. Well the car was OK. It was the insurance. Here you have to have insurance before you can get the rego

Culture On an exchange you get to live, work and breathe the whole culture of the country you are in. I didn't think that Canada would be too much different to


Australia. But it is, and you can experience these cultures by actually living through it. As you all know Canada has Indians. They are called First Nations. To go to one of their Pow Wows and learn just a little about the way they lived is a bonus in itself. The exchange program took us to Ottawa where we spent a whole afternoon learning about the First Nations. The exchange also organizes trips to Quebec City, a great French city inside Canada. Also we went on trips to a camp and we tried activities such as skiing, dog sledding, tobogganing, snow shoeing and lots more. Activities we would not get in Australia. It is fantastic of course meeting the different people not just from Canada and the other Australians who are on the exchange with you. Canada has many different sports because of its weather. OECTA the union here put on a curling day and I was lucky enough to be invited by a group of teachers. It was such a fun day. We didn't win but I learnt how to stay up on ice and curl.... Ice Hockey is a very big sport here. I thought our footie was rough.... Well ice hockey takes the cake. Although we went to a few La Crosse games and they are just as bad. Travel On this side of the world it is very easy to get to other countries at a much less price than from Australia. With the 3 months of summer which most schools have off you can plan a great holiday. We took off to the west where we went to Alaska on a cruise. It was the best holiday I have ever had. We flew over the Rockies and we could see the lakes etc. very easily. We stayed with friends on Vancouver Island. Victoria has one of the prettiest harbours over here.

We also took a road trip around Ontario and saw many other wonderful things. St. Jacobs where the Mennonites live, Wasaga beach the largest fresh water beach in the world. Yes, you see lake after lake after lake of fresh water. Something we don't see in Australia. The Lake area where people flock to in the summer time is just amazing. Canadians love their summers and use everyday as if it is their last. We also went to Nova Scotia. A very different place to anywhere else in Canada. Of course Niagara Falls. We have been in all the seasons and it is wonderful in each and every one of them. In the fall we took a drive up to Muskoka to see the colours of fall. There are endless things to do, see and experience. I could go on forever telling you all the things we have been to and experience. But some things you just need to discover yourself. Yes my time is nearly up but I know that the memories will stay with me forever. The people I have worked and played with here in Canada have given me many a fond memory. I hope that one day I can repay them when they come to Australia to see our wonderful country. Memories of the snow falling outside the window covering everything. It falls so quietly and it is so beautiful with all the trees covered in white.

I thank the people in the Exchange Program here and in Australia for helping me live a dream. Any teacher out there who would like to step out of their comfort zone I beg of you to look into an Exchange. You won't be sorry.

QIEU Teacher Exchange Program Work and live overseas for 12 months, return to your current position and still accrue your entitlements. To be eligible you must be QIEU Member working fulltime with a minimum of five (5) years teaching experience. Interested? Contact QIEU Teacher Exchange Coordinator, Jenny Zugno, Ph 3839 7020 or jennyz@qieu.asn.au More information can be found on www.qieu.asn.au F:\DATA\Teachex\IV\clare parker 2006.doc


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