Beyond The Classroom
My family and I had spent four years living in Malaysia where I attended an international school. I fell in love with the global environment, where I was constantly meeting new people with different experiences to my own. For example, there were no two people with the same nationality in my friendship group.
This taught me a lot about different cultures and led me to have an appreciation for how vast the world truly is. My family and I then moved back to Melbourne but I wanted to continue to have this global experience and have friends from all over the world. When I heard about CGA, a truly global school, I was excited to once again join an international cohort of peers. However, I had one reservation. CGA is an online school. How is it possible to make friends in an online environment? I can now easily answer that question after studying full-time with CGA for over a year now.
Our teachers make every lesson feel like more than just a zoom classroom. We have very open yet respectful dialogue and inside jokes with our classmates and teachers. There has never been a class where a classmate or teacher has not made me laugh. From learning about the floods in New Zealand to the heat waves in Vietnam to my peers at the start of class or about my chemistry teacher’s LEGO set he received as a Christmas present, I have formed real relationships with each and every one of my classmates and teachers. The average class size is really small - my biggest class having only nine students, which gives me a chance to get to know everyone. I remember sitting in a traditional school classroom of 30 students where my peers still didn’t know the names of their classmates by the end of the year. That definitely isn’t the case at CGA! Teachers will also put us in breakout rooms to encourage collaboration and give us a chance to talk to each other and find out what your friends did over the weekend.
As a student leader, I can attest to the fact that we put a lot of effort and emphasis into making sure assemblies are engaging and give students a chance to make friends and get involved in life at CGA.
In one of my favourite assemblies was when some of the other student leaders partnered up with younger CGA students to create a funny video about digital safety and using chat rooms respectfully. It was great to see collaboration across different age groups. In that assembly we also ran a Kahoot. I joined the breakout room and students already had their microphones unmuted and were talking about who they thought was going to win and telling stories about what happened in their classes earlier that day. Form time is very similar to assemblies but just with a smaller group of students. Everyone in my form time is super close and we use the half hour of form time to really connect, catch-up and share what’s going on in our lives.
CGA encourages the use of Slack between students. Slack is a messaging platform with lots of ‘channels’ that you can join related to your interests. It is really easy to send off a quick message to your friends asking them how they found the homework or how their cricket match went over the weekend. My friends and I will also shoot each other a quick message and then decide to hop on a zoom call to eat lunch together, chat or do homework.
CGA offers lots of clubs, some led by students and some led by teachers. These clubs allow me to form great networks with other students who have similar interests to me. A recent club launched by CGA students is the LEGO club where members compete in building competitions and come up with design ideas together. Composition club attracts members with a passion for music. I can confirm that the concerts and songs that the composition club put together are pretty awesome!
CGA’s house system is new this year. There are six houses in total and lots of regular house competitions. The houses release a competitive spirit that sees students band together in the hopes of prevailing over other houses. The house system has also provided the chance for new friendships to be formed because you get to meet people you may not have classes with or come across on slack.
There are so many in-person social events that CGA runs. From bowling to going to the zoo or having lunch out, CGA students have the opportunity to attend these events and meet their classmates in real life.
Last term the Social Life team ran a very successful movie night that saw over 20 students attend. We chatted all throughout the movie and made lots of friends bonding over the watching of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. The only entry ticket needed was a funny hat which led to some lively debate and interesting stories surrounding the origin of people’s hats.
As you can see, it is definitely possible to make friends at CGA. In fact, the relationships I have formed at CGA are some of the most rewarding I have ever had. Everyone looks out for each other which forms a really tight knit community. If you are in the position I was before joining CGA, worried about how you can make friends online, don’t worry. I am now lucky enough to say that I have amazing global friendships that develop me as a person, teach me new things and I have friends that constantly make me fall off my chair in laughter.