City and bush encounters leave Canadian visitors in awe

The Siler family of Canada come from a very small town – so small in fact they find the traffic in Canberra confronting.

Jamie Siler is starting her midyear exchange at Radford College Canberra teaching PDHPE. She teaches the same subject at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School at Red Deer Alberta, but to an older cohort.

After 15 years in the profession, Siler is looking for some new ideas, and tackling some sports she’s never seen before might be a good challenge.

“I heard about the exchange program when I was a student. I always wanted to come to Australia and it seemed like good way to travel, learn about a country, meet people and become part of the culture,” Siler said.

“As a teacher, it will provide a different perspective. I’ll be working with a younger age group. At home I’ve been thinking about changing to a younger age group, but not sure whether to commit, so this gives me a chance to try it out.

“I hope it will broaden my thinking and give me some new teaching styles. I’ve already seen on my schedule I’ll be teaching some sports I have no idea of the rules for such games as netball, so that should be a good challenge.’’

Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School caters for students who are mainly from a lower socio-economic group, so Radford College will offer different demographics as well.

Siler’s own children, Ellyana, 6 and Blake, 8, are also having to adapt, coming to terms with having to wear a school uniform at their local primary school.

A trip to Bondi beach was a source of amazement not just for its golden sands but the packed city bus.

“They’ve never experienced a situation where the bus driver stopped taking passengers because the bus was too full,” Jamie’s partner Nate said.

Nate is also a teacher and may take up some relief work in Canberra. “I have found driving around Canberra, where you don’t have four cars width on every road, and driving on the left, the most stressful thing since I’ve been here”.

As well as being confronted by city living, the Silers have been thrilled by living in a house which backs onto a national park.

“Every evening we see a herd of kangaroos coming down the mountain to feed on the ovals,” Jamie said.

“The kids’ first time walking to school involved an encounter with a kangaroo – we weren’t sure if it was a statue at first. We feel very lucky to be where we are.”