King’s Academy welcomed six international exchange students to campus this spring who, in addition to taking on a full academic schedule, had the opportunity to experience Jordanian culture and hospitality.
King’s is a member of the Round Square organization, a world-wide association of over 180 schools across five continents committed to supporting their students’ personal development and sense of responsibility through community service, work projects, adventuring and exchange programs. Since becoming a Round Square school in 2010, King’s has hosted more than 46 students from around the world.
“Jordanian people – especially my host family – are lovely, welcoming and friendly, always inviting you to eat and talk,” said Joshua John ’19, who was on exchange for two months from Scotch College in Perth, Australia.
One of the biggest differences John noticed between his school and King’s however, was the diversity of the student body.
“At my school in Australia, everyone is very much from the same background,” he explained. “But when you meet someone here, you need to ask them where they are from because they could be from Japan or South America. So you meet a lot of interesting new people. At my school there are a lot of cliques, but at King’s it’s a lot friendlier, you can talk to everyone.”
For exchange student Caitlin Gill ’19, who goes to school at the World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA International School) in Singapore, the similarities she found were a bigger surprise than the differences.
“I think it’s quite cool that around the world teenagers are all the same,” said Gill. “Growing up we have different experiences but can still connect with each other because we have the same hobbies and interests and talk about the same things. It was a nice surprise; it was a sense of familiarity even though I’m far from home.”
The six exchange students also learned about Jordanian culture by touring some of the country's most famous historical sites including the Dead Sea, Petra, Aqaba, Wadi Rum, Jerash, Mt. Nebo and the Baptism site.
“Petra was amazing, one of the coolest things I have ever seen,” said Tobias Cochran ’19 from the Athenian School in California.
“Jordan is extremely beautiful, the weather and the sheer pleasure I get every time I go outside is just amazing,” said Nandini Seth ’19, who goes to Woodstock School in India.
In addition to enjoying Jordanian culture and cuisine, the exchange students also made the most of their boarding experience at King’s Academy.
“I really like boarding and getting to meet lots of people,” said Gill, who is a day student at her school in Singapore. “It’s quite a small school compared to mine, so it’s a much closer community. I connected so fast with so many people, I really love it here. I’ve even talked to my parents about transferring here.”
Also a day student back home, John said that he likes the independence of boarding at King’s. “Here, there’s control, but it’s more freeing than my school. After classes you have more time to do your own thing on your own time.”
King’s unique and holistic way of learning also proved popular with the exchange students. In particular, they appreciated how much more engaging, interesting and fun classes were with the Harkness method, which sees the whole class gathered around the signature round Harkness table debating topics, instead of the more traditional classroom settings they are used to.
“At King’s, you do a lot more discussion in class, so you get less done in the classroom but have more homework to do,” noted John. “But I’m not opposed to that. I actually really like the idea of study hall, it’s helped me become more productive.”
Having made many new life-long friends and learned a great deal about Jordan and its people, culture, cuisine and language, the exchange students also found that their experience at King’s taught them something important about themselves.
“I really changed through this experience and learned a lot about myself,” explained Seth. “It’s definitely not just about studying; an exchange is about meeting amazing people and learning and improving as a person.”
Exchange Students: Joshua John ’19 from Scotch College in Australia; Caitlin Gill ’19 from UWCSEA International School in Singapore; Tobias Alexander Cochran ’19 from the Athenian School in the US; Nandini Seth ’19 from Woodstock School in India; Aditi Aggarwal ’18 from Vivek High School in India and Makindye Ketley ’19 from Roedean school in South Africa.