From the Principal: the welcome return of student travel opportunities

There was a very excited sense of anticipation as I arrived this morning, with expectant Grammar girls in the Main Building awaiting the arrival of our German exchange students. The world, and our School, has at last opened up again to travel and student exchange. During the recent holidays, 45 students travelled to Space Camp in the USA, five students competed in an international physics tournament in New Zealand and now our first exchange students since 2019 have arrived. The families who are welcoming these girls into their homes will share experiences with their daughters, and the German families of our visitors, that have the possibility of lifelong friendship and opportunity.

It is interesting to consider, and often hotly debated, what language a student ‘ought’ to pursue. At certain times in our history, and according to our geographical location or future aspirations, particular languages may be held up as most compelling. But, of course, the choice will be highly personal for whoever truly knows what their future holds and what might be the ‘right’ language to take.  At Girls Grammar we know that whatever language a girl studies, it will be the basis of an openness to different cultures and perspectives, as much as a skill to be acquired. Most importantly, I hope it brings them reward and delight in mastering it.

This weekend, Australia will hold a referendum for the first time in 24 years. While few of our students are eligible to vote, most will have followed the debate and discussion that has, and will continue to, accompany The Voice. I hope that the education they receive at Girls Grammar—including the fundamental importance of history when seeking to understand the present and shape the future— equips our students to engage in informed dialogue on ethical, social, political, and philosophical issues.

Our teachers educate our girls to understand that their arguments may be challenged, their logic questioned and their opinions tested, but that the character of their conversation is as powerful and important as the content of that conversation. To be leaders in a modern world they must have the confidence and willingness to speak up for what they believe in and to, equally, appreciate and be respectful of the views of others. So much in contemporary debate is polarising and divisive.  I hope that we can continue to find, within our society, ways to talk about our shared humanity and collective aspirations in the times ahead.

Finally, we need not be reminded that the end of the year is fast approaching. I enjoyed reading this week the wisdom written, with simple understatement and very much in the language of the day, the Editorial of the Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School Magazine in December 1948.

As our Year 12 students conclude their time at Girls Grammar, we trust that their teachers ‘from their wide experience and wisdom, have given us a good foundation on which to build our lives and so become decent and happy citizens’.

Ms Jacinda Euler Welsh