In order to extend our facilities into the world beyond, we formed an alliance with schools in other parts of the world whose vision and ethos we share. Through this alliance (Global Alliance for Innovative Learning - GAIL), pupils and staff from each institution can experience living and working together in pursuit of a global objective: to learn from each other, to recognise a common humanity which transcends cultural and religious differences and to see one’s own culture from a different perspective. Each year, the partner schools meet at one of their locations (South Africa, India, China, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Peru or UK) for an annual themed convention. Ten pupils and two staff members travelled to the Western International School of Shanghai for the 2019 GAIL Convention.
Sharing some highlights from the trip, Beth K said: "None of us had any idea of the impact the trip we were about to embark on would leave upon us. After enjoying a few days in the tourist district of Shanghai we headed to the GAIL Convention 2019, taking place at WISS. The action packed five days passed by in a blur and were filled with a number of activities including dumpling making, rock climbing, traditional chinese painting and a talent show which all culminated in a presentation on the final day in which delegates were given the opportunity to demonstrate what GAIL truly means to them. Each activity represented a different aspect of living life in balance, which was the theme that the 2019 conference centred around.
"Sharing rooms with people from around the world and being surrounded by strangers, we were thrown out of our comfort zone but it was a matter of hours before these people truly became our friends. Meeting pupils from many different schools was a highlight as not only did we get to learn about cultures from seven countries around the world but also share our own. The connections we made and the skills we learnt will remain with us for a long time.
"After a rather weepy goodbye, the Scottish delegates boarded the bullet train which would take us to the capital city of China, Beijing, where we would spend the final week of our trip. A stand out stop from our time in Beijing was undoubtedly, ‘The Great Wall of China.’ Putting Hadrian’s Wall to shame, this wonder of the world truly was spectacular.
"The GAIL convention and trip to China as a whole provided us with a once in a lifetime opportunity and certainly the best cultural experience of our lives which we could have never anticipated. The combination of visiting the beautiful landmarks, sampling all of the new food and meeting the most wonderful people in China made the trip an unforgettable experience, and something we all wish we could relive."
Mrs Adam, Teacher of Mandarin commented: "This convention is an ideal platform for young people from all over the world to meet, explore, make new friends and exchange ideas. The host school created an environment that was fun and culturally relevant, inspiring and encouraging attendees to participate. The final presentation by pupils impressed the audience - their creative manner not only reflected their experience, but also showed dedicated team work! Hopefully in the future more young people will have the opportunity to join the GAIL convention and share a great experience with peers from all around the world."
Mr Duncan, Teacher of Modern Languages and GAIL Co-ordinator highlighted: "Every GAIL Convention brings a huge amount of diversity to the fore. Through such diversity comes a wealth of new life experiences and opportunities for our pupils and staff to acquire new skills whilst exploring this amazing world. This year's GAIL Convention at the Western International School of Shanghai was no exception and our group of ten students have returned to the College enthused and invigorated by the lasting friendships they have made, enlightened by the courses on well-being they attended and have many fond memories of a summer well spent discovering all that China has to offer."
Highlights from GAIL 2019