Dreaming of the Wide Blue Yonder

Perhaps one of the most marked changes to the world we’ve witnessed in recent times is the closure of borders, both domestic and international.

Unfortunately, it is far too early to speculate about when we may next enjoy the freedoms of travel that we’ve perhaps taken for granted in the past.

BGGS has long leveraged the good fortune of being able to empower Grammar girls to venture beyond the School’s picket fence, expand their horizons and immerse themselves in new cultures. From our first Affiliate partnership with the Hirayama Gakuen Tsushima Girls High/Seirinkan High School in 1978, to our most recent international tour with Antipodeans Abroad to Peru in December 2019, our students and staff have readily embraced new life skills and learnings through the unparalleled experience of stepping beyond the familiar and the comforts of home.

It takes courage as a young person to leave your family and adventure out into the world. It also takes courage as a staff member to lead groups of girls to new and wondrous places, while maintaining a constant vigilance to their care and well-being. For 41 years, the experience of travel has influenced many Grammar girls in those small and subtle ways I’m sure parents notice—girls return taller, wiser, more reflective—for on return we are not the same person we were as when we left. Travel changes us. The challenge we face now is how to replicate these experiences, when at the moment, the world, at least physically, remains closed. What opportunities can we leverage to provide similar life and learning experiences for our girls?

One fantastic benefit we’ve seen is the opening up of virtual tours and exhibitions of historical sites, museums, and galleries all around the world. Last Saturday, our Virtual Art Walk lead by Head of Visual Arts and School Mindfulness Coordinator, Mr Donald Pincott, and Manager of Collections, Ms Lorraine Thornquist, transported us internationally to view the works of Edward Hopper in the US and Vincent Van Gogh in Amsterdam. To view Van Gogh and Hopper in situ and to be led around the galleries was an incredible experience. As I write, the experience of the Louvre, Vatican, British Museum, MET, and Smithsonian collections is literally at my fingertips.

Access the Kleio Society Club page on Minerva, and you can take a virtual tour of the Forbidden City, the Minoan Palace of Knossos, or walk through ancient Rome. This is indeed delightful to be able to access distant places through the wonders of technology; however, those of us who have travelled will acknowledge it’s not the same as being there in person—to breathe in the air, feel the sun, or taste the delights of a foreign land.

While we hope a return to the days of our international travels are not too far away, we can look forward with greater optimism to the opportunities and adventures that await us a little closer to home, in our own backyard. Already staff are forming ideas with Coordinator of Travel, Mr Paul Martineau, which will be refined in preparation for 2021 journeys. While it may not appear initially as exotic or appealing as flying to the other side of the planet, we may just find we rediscover that our very own ‘sunburnt country’, holds just as much rich treasure as the wide blue yonder out there.

Ms Ellena Papas
Dean of Co-curriculum