Durban Experience

For Antonia, Lolly and Bella, the highlight of the summer holidays was their Global Schools’ Exchange trip to Durban Girls’ College (DGC) in South Africa. 

1 October 2019

Organised by the Higher Education and Global Initiatives (HEGI) department, the Global Schools’ Exchange Programme offers girls in the Fifth Form the opportunity to travel independently and to spend time living and learning at one of Downe House’s 16 partner schools across six continents.  

Here, each of the girls describes the highlights of their trip to DGC. 

Antonia reports, “We had an incredible experience in South Africa right from the moment we met our host families who gave us all such a warm welcome. Going to DGC was quite different from Downe House because lessons started at 7.30am, so we had to get up at 6am which seemed very early, but we finished at 2.30pm which was really nice!  I got involved in lots of different activities – playing football, singing in the school choir and playing in the orchestra. After school, we often went to the beach or the local water park with our Exchange Buddies even though it was winter, and they all complained about the ‘cold’ temperature of 23 degrees! I got the chance to visit a traditional Zulu village with my host family and I learned about their culture, as well as having a go at Zulu dancing. Going on exchange does force you to step out of your comfort zone, but it really is a fun and rewarding experience.” 

Lolly said, “We spent our first weekend settling in with our host families and I went on a game drive which was an amazing experience – I saw lions, warthogs, elephants, buffalo, giraffes and zebras. At school, I really enjoyed Business lessons as we don’t study this subject at Downe House until Sixth Form. We went to the Girl Talk conference, which was held at DGC bringing lots of girls from the local community together, as well as other visiting girls from the USA and UK. The first day focused on breast and cervical cancer education and awareness, whilst the second day focused on entrepreneurship. We listened to some really interesting talks by surgeons and entrepreneurs, as well as a talk from a famous South African TV Chef, Siba, before cooking a traditional South African potjie with her. I really enjoyed the weekends with my host family – I was lucky enough to go up into the Drakensberg Mountains where we went on lots of walks and I also had a surfing lesson which was so much fun.” 

And the last of the trio, Bella explained, “Lessons at DGC were similar to those at Downe House but there were a few different subject choices, for example Consumers, Business, Accounting and Maths Lit. Whilst we were in South Africa, we celebrated Mandela Day and Women’s Day. For Mandela Day, we assembled on the school field in a giant number 67 to remember the 67 years Nelson Mandela spent fighting for freedom. On Women’s Day, we attended the Girl Talk conference. While we were in Durban, we also did a lot of work in the local community at local schools teaching children Maths and Reading. We went to Makabongwe Pre-school to help with arts and crafts activities and we made really cute caterpillars with the children. We also went to Clayton Primary School to help teach their pupils to read.”  

Find out more about the Global Schools’ Exchange Programme

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