Kardinia International College’s virtual homestay experience.

“It is wonderful to see these connections being formed, and families from both schools look forward to the zoom calls each week.” Kardinia International College Principal, Catherine Lockhart, describes the benefits of the school’s ‘Homestay GoKIC’ Virtual Homestay Experience.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, international student exchange programmes have been unable to run as usual, so ‘Homestay GoKIC’ provides an innovative alternative. Kardinia International College students are connecting with students from Kardinia’s sister school, Gotemba Nishi High School in Japan, through a virtual homestay experience called ‘Homestay GoKIC’. Through weekly Zoom calls, Kardinia International College and Gotemba Nishi High School families learn about each other’s schools, food and everyday life.

Kardinia International College was founded by the late Mr Yoshimaro Katsumata, who was the owner of Gotemba Nishi High School. Gotemba Nishi High School Vice Principal, Mr Takahiro Katsumata is the grandson of Mr Yoshimaro Katsumata and a member of Kardinia International College’s Board.  The two schools share a strong bond, through student exchange and study tour programs, but with international travel suspended, the schools decided to continue these important student cultural experiences online.

In 2020 the two schools developed the ‘GoKIC’ Online Zoom Pal program, which allowed students to build international connections and friendships, develop understanding of different cultures, improve their Japanese language skills and learn how to work in the digital world. ‘Homestay GoKIC’ is a continuation of this program.

Mrs. Lockhart said she is pleased that students from both schools can continue to connect during the COVID-19 pandemic.  “The ‘Homestay GoKIC’ program allows students to develop international friendships despite currently being unable to travel overseas.  The success of the ‘Homestay GoKIC’ program has been fantastic, and we look forward to developing ways it can be continued into the future.”

Photo: supplied of one of the Kardinia International College’s families on a Zoom call with a student at Gotemba Nishi High School.