24 August 2016 – During the mid-year holidays, Saint Andrew’s welcomed four exchange visitors from the Ripley St Thomas Church of England Academy in Lancashire: Joseph Baldwin (18), Isaac Thornton, (17), Adam Robinson (17), and maths’ teacher Scott Cameron. After a week of acclimatising, they joined the school for the beginning of the third term.
Out of their Saint Andrew’s uniforms, Isaac Thornton (left), Adam Robinson (middle) and Joseph Baldwin (right) enjoy some winter sunshine on their last day of school at Saints.
Their visit came about as a result of the visit of the Ripley St Thomas Chaplain Sam Cheesman to Saint Andrew’s last year, with Saint’s Chaplain Father Deon Lombard paying a reciprocal visit to Ripley St Thomas .
The boys admitted they knew little of South Africa, let alone Saints, when they arrived in Bloemfontein.
“We always thought South Africa was quite like where we are, but in Bloemfontein it is quite weird how people come up to you and immediately speaks Afrikaans. Then we have to tell them we don’t speak Afrikaans,” Joseph commented.
National television appearance
Only a week into his time in the school, he appeared on national television when Saints’ Mandela Day contribution of making over 30 000 sandwiches in an hour for the less privileged captured the imagination of local and national media.
Focusing on some of the differences, Isaac said: “It’s good and it has been different. We get up a lot earlier. We start at nine at home and finish around three.”
Joseph added: “It has been about getting used to eating all your meals at school, because we’ve never boarded. And the lessons are very different at the moment. The subjects that we do are different, with different angles to them. They’re similar but not the same.”
Integration into Saints’ life
As different as it may have been, the three boys and Scott assimilated seamlessly into Saints. Adam provided a highlight when he sang one of two solos for the Chapel Choir at the christening of Riley Gouws, the son of staff member Heleen Gouws and her husband Morné.
Further evidence of their integration into Saints was provided by the loud laughter that regularly emanated from the rooms of their fellow matric pupils in the hostels at night, with the English boys playing an active role in the banter. In addition, Sam and Isaac had an opportunity to run out for the 2nd XV and helped them to a big win over Sand du Plessis.
During their month in Bloemfontein, our overseas visitors were also able to fit in a little time for exploration, making trips to visit to a cheetahs’ reserve (hey, this is the Free State!) and also journeying to East London for a weekend.
Thoughts on Saints
When the time to leave arrived, Scott said of his experience: “The camaraderie at the school comes foremost to mind. We have just been so warmly welcomed and feel like we have become a part of the school for the past month. It has been great. Everyone has been amazing. I’m going to miss all the teachers.
“The boys have enjoyed themselves and they don’t want to leave. That says a lot.”