RS students opt for exchange at King’s

King’s Academy is as popular as ever among Round Square students across the globe who continue to request the school as one of their top destination choices for exchange.

Since launching its exchange program in 2008, King’s Academy has hosted about 50 students (both long term and short term) from India, Australia and South Africa. But it isn’t only on the receiving end of the program. Since 2007, an average of two King’s students per year have embarked on summer exchanges to schools in the southern hemisphere – the only ones in session during that time – with five set to travel this year.

Director of Extramural Programs Tessa Fairbairn explained that the importance of this exchange is twofold: it advocates internationalism, which is one of the pillars – and the first IDEAL – of Round Square, as well as global citizenship – one of the guiding principles of King’s.

“These concepts are both built upon the same parameter,” said Fairbairn. “When people get to know each other, they can build a better understanding – of one another’s ethos, their situations, their loves and their dislikes. At King’s, we welcome people to come and understand us, to see very clearly what the Middle East really is.”

Prior to leaving King’s, four of the most recent exchange students wrote essays in which they reflected on their experience. Below are excerpts.

David Crowe from St. Philip’s College, Australia

I found my time at King’s Academy an amazing and very rewarding experience. When I first arrived at the school, I was introduced to my host, who has since become great friend of mine, and who definitely helped and supported me through the first few weeks. I was introduced to a lot of new people who came from all around the world. It was a new and confidence-building experience, being thrown into a school where I didn’t know anyone, and ended up making some very close friends.

Boarding was also something very new to me and it felt equally rewarding. It allowed me to interact with people I had met more than I believe being a day student could have, and it allowed me to participate in the school’s amazing array of extracurricular activities and excursions. One of the great things about exchange was that it allowed me to try many subjects that I may not have been able to do at my school, and it definitely sparked my interest in a few areas.

I was lucky enough to have the International Round Square conference held at the school during my exchange. It was an extraordinary experience on its own and being able to be a delegate truly made me feel lucky. The theme of the conference was “peace,” which I felt was an extremely relevant topic considering all of the judgment placed upon this part of the world. Many of my friends were from different backgrounds and religions, and we all managed to coexist and get along just fine.

Parika Kamra from Vivek High School, India

For me, Jordan was not about one thing; it was an experience of a lifetime. King’s Academy warmly welcomed me as an exchange student. Although I had butterflies in my stomach, the Round Square team at King’s made me feel at home.

At that time, experiencing a boarding school life and living under the same roof as my classmates was an exciting adventure in itself. Ice-breaking activities helped me make friends and interact with the people I was going to live with for the next month. On the weekends, my friends helped me explore the lovely capital city, Amman.

The teachers at King’s Academy were always willing to help. King’s gave me an opportunity to learn Arabic, something that has stayed with me until now. Apart from that, I got a glimpse of Middle East political dynamism and its foreign relations. Community service gave me a chance to interact with the local primary school children, which broadened my knowledge about the Jordanian culture.

Visits to Petra and Wadi Rum marked my exchange with a lot of knowledge about the primitive society of Jordan. The beautiful rock cut architecture of Petra and the rich Bedouin culture did not fail to leave me mesmerized. Wadi Rum allowed me to explore high desert hills and enlightened me about the cultural practices of Nabateans. Both places instantly managed to connect me to the Jordanian history.

I came back with much more than I went with. The experience, memories, knowledge and friends stay on until today. Exchange is one experience that truly helps you grow in life.

Hadley Dickinson from Dainfern College, South Africa

I embarked on what ended up being the most spectacular journey and adventure of my life to date. Jordan and, furthermore, King’s Academy was where I was supposed to spend the next six most incredible weeks of my life. Luckily I did not feel homesick for very long as the King’s Academy students and staff members are very kind and humorous people, and they make you feel right at home from the very beginning. Before the first week could even end, I had made so many new friends and I dreaded the day I would have to leave this beautiful school with all its fantastic people.

Jordan is such a beautiful and diverse country and I am so glad I had the opportunity to be a part of the amazing exchange program that Round Square offers. There are so many things to see in Jordan such as Petra, Jerash and most incredibly the Dead Sea. I was very grateful as King’s organized for all of the exchange students to spend a day at each of these places.

The student life at King’s Academy is the best. There are always fun things planned on the weekends for all the boarding students. The weekend atmosphere was a definite highlight for me.

Rumana Mhedi from The Lyceum School, Pakistan

I had gone to the Middle East expecting to find countries in turmoil and stress but here I saw the Jordanian youth resolve conflicts using the Gandhian model of conflict resolution without even realizing it. I was wary of being alienated but I was embraced with open arms. I saw Muslims and Christians eat, laugh, cry and live together. It was inspiring to see that behind the walls of King's Academy, a new generation of peace makers was in the making. A revolution was stirring within these walls and I was glad to be a part of it.

Jordan is not the hub of terrorism. It is the land on which Jesus and Moses walked. It is the country that hosts thousand year-old dolmens, centuries-old mosaics and churches. It is the haven for Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and a preserver of the glorious Arab culture.

Perhaps the best part of this internship was that it allowed me to interact intimately with teachers and students alike. Four days before I left Jordan, I addressed the entire student body of King's Academy during their school meeting. During those seven minutes, I struck a chord with the students and suddenly, I was no longer an intern; I was an unforgettable part of King's Academy. As they say, you do not just study at King's, you make King's.