Stephanie Quirke-Beaton is on exchange from St Catherine School in Calgary, Alberta. She exchanged with Rebecca Stevenson of St Thomas Aquinas Primary School in Charnwood, ACT.
Stephanie has been enjoying travelling around Australia on her first visit with her husband Colby and daughters Lily, eight, and Maisy, six.
She said it’s been refreshing looking at programing on a term basis, rather than once a year, as it is done in Canada.
Stephanie sent the IEU a postcard about a big surprise at her school recently.
“I wanted to let you know of the incredible Canada Day we had in Canberra on 1 July.
“My girls and I were first welcomed by a beautiful Canadian flag flying alongside the beautiful Australian flag outside the school.
“The Vice Principal at St Thomas Aquinas had contacted the Canadian High Commission and was allowed to borrow a Canada flag.
“This would be the first of many Canada Day surprises.
“In school, we were greeted by the secretaries who were wearing red and white, followed by a couple of staff members – my girls and I were starting to realise this was going to be a very special Canada Day.
“The entire staff dressed in their best red and white! The principal played O’Canada in the school and all staff stood for the national anthem. They asked me to sing but I was afraid I was going to burst into tears with how happy and emotional I was feeling.
“My students were just as excited as the staff and had great fun telling the other students of St Thomas Aquinas all they know about Canada.
“At lunchtime I was greeted with a Canadian breakfast of pancakes, waffles, blueberries, Canadian bacon and maple syrup. A few teachers did the cooking and everyone enjoyed the eating! The staff room smelled like home.
“My principal presented me with an absolutely gorgeous bouquet of red and white flowers, thanking me for being enthusiastic about Canada and telling my Canadian stories.
“How proud I am to be a part of the staff of St Thomas Aquinas and how blessed I feel to be surrounded by wonderful Australians who made my family and I feel so at home in a country so far away from.”