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Teams in Residence -Term 2 2016

Schools teams in attendance at the ALPINE SCHOOL CAMPUS for our Term 2, Victorian Young Leaders to China (VYLC) and Alpine School program are from:

  • Colac Secondary College
  • Bright P - 12 College
  • Timboon P-12 College
  • Daylesford Secondary College
  • Ballarat - Wendouree Campus
  • Mount Clear College
  • North Geelong Secondary College
  • Rainbow Secondary College
  • Matthew Flinders Girls Secondary College

Term 2 2016 SSL 9 Week program at the Alpine School Campus starts on Sunday April 17th (Student Arrival at Alpine School) – Departing for China May 7th, returning on June 18 2016

Victorian Young Leaders to China Program

Teams in Residence -Term 2b 2016

Schools teams in attendance at the ALPINE SCHOOL CAMPUS for our Term 2b Program:

  • Box Hill High School
  • East Doncaster Secondary College
  • Brentwood Secondary College
  • Camberwell High School

Term 2b 2016 SSL 6 Week program at the Alpine School Campus starts on Sunday May 15th (Student Arrival at Alpine School) – Departing June 25 2016

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Letter to Parents - VYLC China Experience - Back at Utahloy - Summary of Week 5

Ni Hao,

This past week has seen us reacquaint with the familiarities and surroundings of the Utahloy International School, our ‘home base’ for the past weeks, so to speak. We have continued to be busy with a range of activities and experiences each day whilst working hard on continuing with our Mandarin language classes.

These have included:

Hand Painting - we had a hand painting artist come in and demonstrate how to paint amazing pictures with just your hands, using the base of your fist or the tip and nail of your finger. Students all had a go at a bamboo drawing and rock and waterfalls. The pictures are a great souvenir and memory for students to take home with them.

New Zengcheng – students had a look through the newer shopping malls in the local town to get an idea of how globalisation is influencing China. These modern developments looked like Highpoint shopping centre or Chadstone.

Community Service – it was great to see students working hard and giving back to the local community just outside our school. They helped concrete the roads to the Lychee farms. With the deluge of rain that occurs here, the dirt roads become extremely muddy very quickly and it is sometimes impossible to bring in their harvest. So by concreting the road it makes it a lot safer and more productive. It was quite a unique way to mix concrete. Essentially they just put all the dry ingredients on the road, add water and stir, then flatten it out. This seemed to work well.

Cooking Dumplings – Yum! Students went to a wet market in the morning to purchase the raw ingredients for their dumplings they made in the afternoon. Ting Drechsler, one of our Mandarin teachers taught students how to fill then fold the dumplings into different shapes. The taste testing was very rewarding.

Egg Drop – Some creativity was needed to protect their egg that would be dropped from the height of the fourth floor. Students worked in pairs to make their egg capsule. There were only 3 eggs that survived after the drop.

Orienteering – students braved the warm weather to find the various clues around the school. This was great to see everyone pushing themselves to run most of the course.

Bargaining Bonanza – The whole community went into the markets of Old Zengcheng. Students were given four purchase tasks to focus on and 50 Yuan as a group. They had to purchase an item to take back to give their school, an item that represents their school team, an item interesting to eat and something practical to leave behind for the boarders at Utahloy. Mandarin language was to be used when bargaining and a lovely dinner at a local restaurant followed in the Gualu Mall.

Clan House and Museum – We all ventured into Guangzhou to visit the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall. This building is an important heritage site with many artefacts inside. Guangzhou museum is a unique block style building in the modern end of town. Being a public holiday in China, it was busy inside but educational nonetheless.

Kung Fu – Students learnt a routine from two Kung Fu masters who ran through a sequence of various moves with them. One was with fists and the other with nunchakus. Everyone enjoyed this.
Mandarin – Students have a lot on learning expectations at present, with Mandarin being one of the key focuses. Their written and oral exams are coming up early next week; hence some solid study is being done.

Projects – Students are also busy working on their cultural focused projects with presentations being held next Friday. As part of this we have asked each student to present their key individual learning and a cultural learning from their time away. I am sure you will be asking your son or daughter about this, and hopefully seeing and experiencing evidence of their growth over the past nine weeks.


We are discussing ways of reintegration with the students either back into home, school or their community. Students have been asked to record strategies that will help them settle back in.

Some of the potential issues we can perhaps pre-empt may include wanting more freedom when they get home, to go out, be with friends, travel. It may be in how they express and dress themselves or do their hair. It may also be in wanting to be more involved in the management of their independent lives at home. They may have a new, distant (or nearby) girl or boyfriend they want you to meet, and have all the teenage clumsiness about relating to them and show in introducing you to them. They may be concerned about returning to normal school life and the confines of periods and bells, and fall into a period of disengagement or unhappiness. It may be worth talking these through at home or you may have done this on email BEFORE he or she returns. Ask them how they may be different and what you can do at home to make the coming home easier and better. Ask them to show you their journal, VYLC Portfolio and photos, then to explain them. It may be that the email “relationship” between parents and sons/daughters being maintained even after they have returned home – it is just another perhaps easier way to communicate. Moreover, remind them of their responsibilities to you, their family and school, and they will be expected to attend school in the week following their return on Saturday.

Set some boundaries prior to the homecoming. The last thing most families will want is to billet 20 Alpine School and China graduates over the school holidays, (although one or two might be terrific)! They may find the structures of their home school constraining, and yet they may love the security it also brings. They will have to reacquaint themselves with their friends who did not come to the Alpine School or China, and who may feel abandoned. As a family, it may be that your “house-man or woman” has returned, and those jobs which had been shared around could be redistributed. The favourite mum’s home cooked meal, the lasagne or roast, which has been so missed, may be not quite what was required and it may be impossible for them to actually identify what really is “missing” or “wrong”. For the little brother or sister, their competitor for your attention is just about to arrive back on the scene! And ‘arrive’ they will! But I wonder how easily your son/daughter will fall back into those roles? For some very easily, I am sure. It may be hard for others.

From experience in talking to past students, doing something routine on the Sunday after their return helps. Try to avoid allowing them to lock themselves in their room on their own for long periods of time, especially straight after they return home, for they have become accustomed to having forty-two other like-minded adolescents around them sharing experiences together. Make note that all students reintegrate in different ways and this may take time for some, yet be more immediate for others.

No doubt, they will be emotionally welcomed and supported by you as they arrive back home.
Our flight is CZ321, due to arrive at 8.40am on Saturday 18th June. It may take some time to clear customs, so it could be close to 10.00am before we walk through the doors.

The final busy week ahead is looming.

Russell Shem - Campus Principal

Letter to Parents - VYLC China Experience - Summary of Week 4

Ni Hao,
We are back from a fabulous week in Hong Kong at Pak Lap Wan. We had the experience of crossing the Chinese border twice. Quite novel walking across the border between bus rides and watching many Primary going to school from China to Hong Kong, so they can experience the British Education system and curriculum to learn English. It was also interesting to be driving on the left hand side of the road again in Hong Kong.

Shenzen to Hong Kong Pak Lap

In Hong Kong, we were blessed with fine weather as we had sunshine throughout the week. However, it was extremely hot and humid all day long! At times, it was difficult to avoid getting sunburnt, and sleeping in a tent when the minimum temperature was around 28 degrees was quite a challenge. These conditions once accepted, brought the students closer together as they had to step up and get on with being there and involved in the activities, so the outcomes at the end of the week were notably appreciative and positive. Student self-management was really important here too, for if they forgot to zip up their tent, they would get bitten by mosquitos at night. If they forgot sunscreen or didn’t wear their hat, they got sun burnt. There were daily reminders about this, but sometimes it is only through experience that teenagers learn. They have returned are all safe and are fine.

Access to the Pak Lap area is only by foot or by boat only as there is no direct vehicle access available. It was an idyllic location and our students caught a Junk Boat from the Sai Kung Harbour in Hong Kong across the bay and then had a 30 minute walk over a saddle to get to the campsite.

Sadly, as you passed by some beautiful bay coastline locations, you could see rubbish that had been washed up from the Pacific Ocean. Confronting, yet educationally in terms of our purpose for being in China, it highlighted one of the issues that local people and the world face.

Nonetheless, students enjoyed their week.
Here is what they got up to;

GeoTour walk – Pak Lap is a National Park in Hong Kong. The whole area is of world importance in terms of its geology. It has the largest diameter hexagonal rock column formations in the world. And the volcanic rock is light in colour which sets it apart from other basalt formations. Uncle Sam, our guide was a wealth of knowledge on the area as well as the local and Chinese history.

Raft Building – This was a great team activity that involved everyone. All groups did really well working together to construct and complete their raft with the materials and ropes given, then paddle out around the marker and back with their raft still intact.

Sea Kayaking – Again all groups had a great day out, paddling from Pak Lap to a secluded beach for lunch, then back. The conditions were challenging at times with the wind picking up. This created some choppy waves to paddle through along with boats passing by in the channel which also had to be navigated past at times. All groups did really well in supporting each other. Before we left, students learnt how to capsize and safely exit their kayaks. After the headwind on the way out, the return journey was very enjoyable with a tail wind blowing us all the way back to camp.

Abseiling/ Coasteering – Abseiling was experienced at the end of one of the coastal cliffs. For some, this was their first time and everyone supported each other really well as comfort zones where pushed and conquered. On the way back students got to scramble along the coast which involved some swimming and walking along the coast.

Duties/Community Service – Students were a great help around the campsite. There was a kitchen and we were extremely well fed. The food that came out of that small kitchen was quite astonishing. Students washed dishes and helped make future campsite areas by moving rocks to create small retaining walls to reduce the sand being washed away in heavy rains. They also helped clean and pack all the equipment away after it was used. All the guides were extremely impressed by our students, which added to a really great week.

With only a couple of weeks remaining here in China, there is still much to do. Groups are finalising their project topic and they will be busy studying mandarin this week and next as their assessments take place in the final week.

Busy times remain as the learning continues for a couple more weeks.


Russell Shem - Campus Principal

Gnurad Gundidj Campus
Snowy River Campus
The Alpine School Campus

School For Student Leadership

School for Student Leadership is a Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET) initiative offering a unique residential education experience for year nine students. The curriculum focuses on personal development and team learning projects sourced from students' home regions. There are three campuses in iconic locations across Victoria. The Alpine School Campus is located at Dinner Plain in the Victorian Alps. Snowy River Campus is near the mouth of the Snowy River at Marlo in east Gippsland. The third site is adjacent to Mount Noorat near Camperdown in Victoria’s Western District, and is called Gnurad-Gundidj. After consultation with the local aboriginal community, this name represents both the indigenous name of the local area and an interpretation of the statement "belonging to this place".
Our school community acknowledges the Gunaikurnai, Bidawel and Gundijmara people as the traditional custodians of the land upon which our school campuses are built. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their Elders past and present, and especially whose children attend our school.