Updated: Nov 8, 2019
Over the years we have seen some incredible things at Buckswood Overseas Summer School (BOSS). Things that have warmed our hearts, things that have brought a tear to many an eye, things that have made us feel proud and things that have made us realise how lucky we are to be a part of this multi-cultural, international community.
We have had students who have arrived and left a few weeks later a completely different person, having gone through a transformation from nervous to fearless, from rebellion to revolution, from shy to social and from unsure to sure. Perceptions are changed, personal discoveries are made. That feeling on the last day of, ‘I have done it!’ followed by tears when the sudden realisation hits that it is time to go home. We remind our students at this point not to cry because it is over, but to smile because it has happened. And while their summer school experience is happening, 10 things will occur and culminate in this burst of emotion when that taxi finally arrives.
1. They will grow in confidence
We have had students who upon arrival were too shy to even walk into the Welcome Room and introduce themselves and yet two weeks later, they are standing alone on a stage in front of 250 people performing a 5 minute interpretive dance to Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. Tears were jerked as Justin from Taiwan, who was very quiet and liked his own space, suddenly became the most popular student in the school. By the time Justin was half way through his performance, everyone in the room was on their feet clapping and singing along, giving him the encouragement and energy to get through to the end when the stage was rushed, and Justin was mobbed by a gang of Justin-loving fans embracing him with hugs and chanting his name.
This great moment occurred during one of our talent shows and the funny thing is that there was another person dancing in the show who was a world dance champion. She came second. Justin came first. Does that make him the dance champion of the world?
2. They will improve their social skills
A great thing that happens at Buckswood Overseas Summer School is that no matter where you’re from, what your age is, your background, whether you are male or female, whether you are a student, a teacher, a manager or whatever, we are all the same and we all treat each other equally and with respect.
This opportunity to communicate and socialise with someone on the same level really helps our students to develop their social skills as in any one day, they can be having an in-depth conversation with someone 30 years older than them, with someone from a completely different background, with someone from a completely different culture or with someone who they thought that they would never have the opportunity to meet or to talk to. Summer school gives our students the social skills and confidence to approach someone that they would like to talk to and to hold their own in a conversation.
3. They will broaden their minds
Who can say that they have shared a house with people from every continent in the world (apart from Antarctica)? Who can say that they have sat and eaten a meal at a table with people from every continent? Not many people can say that but those who have been to Buckswood Overseas Summer School can. We have on average 36 different nationalities on our courses with representatives from Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, South America and Oceana.
In a world where the media is constantly telling us that we are all different simply because of the lines drawn on a map and that we should be weary of certain people, summer school provides an excellent opportunity for our students to realise that we are not all different and we are all pretty much in fact very similar.
4. They will improve their English language skills
Almost one billion people speak English around the world and although it isn’t the most spoken language (that is Mandarin Chinese), it is the language of business, travel and tourism. Being able to speak English can offer so many social and cultural opportunities to our students as well as having a positive effect on their brains, giving them an educational advantage and eventually improving their competitiveness in the employment market by opening up new career opportunities.
Studies have also shown that being bilingual has many cognitive benefits. According to research, speaking a second language can mean that you have a better attention span and can multi-task better than monolinguals. This is because being bilingual means you are constantly switching from one language to the other (source: Bilingual Kidspot - 10 amazing benefits of being bilingual - https://bilingualkidspot.com/2017/05/23/benefits-of-being-bilingual/).
5. They will become independent
When talking about room inspections, parents have laughed and told me, ‘He/she will never keep their room tidy!’ Well our students do and they love it! At summer school, our students have no one to rely on to complete tasks such as tidying their room so they have to learn to do things for themselves or it won’t be done at all. Parents are often surprised at the change in their kids once they’ve returned from summer school. They have become more independent and with independence comes confidence and not just a ‘can-do’ attitude but also a 'want-to-do' attitude.
To learn more about our room inspections, please read our blog Changing the World One Room at a Time.
6. They will experience life the UK
What things do you think kids are most surprised by when they come to the UK? Two things are reoccurring:
a. They can see the stars. A lot of our students come from big cities with lots of artificial light and pollution, and even though they may be in their teens, they have never seen the stars before. I once saw a 15 year old boy cry because he saw stars for the first time.
b. It doesn’t rain every day. It never rained once during summer school 2018.
Simple things right? It’s these little quirky random things that we love to hear students talking about as for us here in the UK, this is something that we know. This is life. It is normal and something that I guess we take for granted but for our students, this is only something that they can learn and experience while here in the UK. I’ve even experienced a student seeing a tree for the first time in their life.
There’s also the fact that in their first two hours in London they will see and experience the London Eye, the River Thames, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square, Downing Street, the Horse Guards Parade, St. James Park, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Convent Garden. They’ll also have the opportunity to visit Brighton, Hastings, Canterbury, Rye, Eastbourne and Beachy Head, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures, Battle Abbey, Bodiam Castle, Windsor and Michelham Priory. All the while learning how to queue and talk about the weather.
7. They will learn the value of hard work
Students at BOSS are rewarded for everything that they do and can win house points for being helpful, being polite, having the tidiest bedrooms, winning competitions, being creative, thinking outside the box and more. No hard work, no reward.
8. They will learn how to work in a team
All of our students’ hard work contributes towards something greater than simply their own reward. No one is ever in it for themselves as each student is a member of a house and a house is a team, a family, a brotherhood, a sisterhood. A group of students who work together to be the best, doing it for each other. No individual is greater than their house. Students will learn that there is no ‘I’ in team, but there is in ‘win’.
9. They will make new friends
And those friends could be from the other side of the world or even from the same city. I know of BOSS students that have travelled to each other’s countries to stay with their friend's families, to experience their BOSS alumni’s ‘real-life’ and their culture. You could call this an extension to the BOSS experience. To experience BOSS and then to embrace the opportunities that BOSS has thrown your way by seizing the chance to experience something completely new thanks to your new friends.
10. They will have fun
At the end of the day, everything that we do at BOSS is all about having fun. Our classes, our activities, our excursions, day-to-day life and even tidying bedrooms. A lot of our students may be unsure at first but the moment the penny drops, it is only fun from then on in.
The best way that to summarise 10 reasons why kids and teenagers should study at Buckswood Overseas Summer School is by using not my own words, but those of a student who represents everything that BOSS is about. He came, he saw, he conquered.
This blog post was written by Neil McLoughin, Director of Buckswood Overseas Summer School (BOSS). BOSS is a British Council accredited language school for students aged 8 to 17 from across the globe. To find out more, please visit www.buckswoodsummerschool.com or contact us here.
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