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A journey of language learning and friendship building: Min De Junior High School students visit Melrose High School

Nineteen students from Min De Junior High School in Tainan enjoyed a 10-day visit to Melrose High School in the Australian Capital Territory in August 2016.
This was a reciprocal visit following a visit to Taiwan in April this year by nine Melrose High School students on an overseas excursion led by principal Simon Vaughan.
The Min De students were accompanied by their school principal, Ms. Tsai Mei-Yen. Ms. Tsai was recognized as one of Taiwan’s leading educators and this year received a Minister’s Award for Excellence in Education in 2015.
The whole Melrose High School community was involved in this exchange program, including teachers who volunteered to run special lessons and students who stepped up to run activities and offered assistance. The Taiwan students were billeted with Melrose High School families and experienced Australian home and school life, accompanied by their homestay friends. They participated in various practical courses such as ICT and arts, and went on excursions organized to let them experience more of the way of life in Canberra.
One of the many highlights of the visit was the farewell party on 10 August which Andy Bi, the executive director of the Education Division at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia, was invited to attend. The visiting students performed some traditional Taiwan dances to affirm their friendship with the Mandarin students from Melrose and to express their appreciation for the hospitality shown by their sister school.
Melrose High School’s sister-school partnership with Min De Junior High School in Taiwan began in 2010. Both schools understand that learning a language provides students with rich opportunities to develop academically, culturally, and intellectually. Their strong focus on language learning is enhanced by the biennial exchange programs that offer the students of both schools opportunities to travel overseas and experience “authentic learning” which means learning in real-life settings.
As Mr. Vaughan stated in the Melrose newsletter: “We had a memorable journey with the Min De students. It has been a journey of language and cultural learning, friendship building, and personal growth”.