[Sponsored article] Independence, growth and confidence building were just some of the key takeaways that a group of students had during a unique opportunity to visit their sister school in the UK recently. In September, a group of 17 students from Mount Kelly Hong Kong took part in a sister school visit to the prestigious Mount Kelly School in Tavistock, UK. The Year Five to Year Eight students left behind their iPhones, iPads and other electronic devices and went to experience what boarding school life would be like in the UK at Mount Kelly. “Every child should get the opportunity to go on an overseas trip and being away from the pressures of home, phones, iPads and social media, they can become more independent and grown up,” said Nick Rothwell, Head of Preparatory School, who accompanied the students on the trip. The overseas school trip is an annual offering at Mount Kelly School Hong Kong to give an eye-opening opportunity for the students to see what life is like in another country, as well as an opportunity for personal growth. “These experiences build up their confidence to help them achieve success in the future, that’s why we think it’s a great experience. Even if they don’t go to senior school there, our sister school is the perfect environment for them to explore new opportunities,” Rothwell said. The programme line up for the 10 days includes a tour of London when the students arrive, followed by a trip to the UK boarding school. Students then get buddied up with a UK student and proceed with school life as they would if they attended boarding school there. On top of the exciting line up of activities at the school, students also get a chance to tour the area of Dartmouth and take part in activities such as surfing, hiking and experiencing the great outdoors. “For this generation, particularly in Hong Kong, children don’t get out as much. For us at Mount Kelly, we want them to go out and explore different activities,” Rothwell said. “The UK was brilliant because the students got involved in every aspect of school life.” Sam Yan, who is in Year Five and the youngest to go on the trip, said that surfing was the most memorable part of the trip, and he is not alone in feeling that way. “It was the best part of the programme,” he said. “The day that we did it, it wasn’t too cold, so the water was nice, it was tricky to stand up and keep your balance and I fell a lot, but I enjoyed it so much.” Other students appreciated the wide-open spaces that are a hallmark of many UK schools. “The air is so good in the UK, and it’s so fresh,” said Charlie Chan who is in Year Six. “The school there is beautiful and it’s bigger, the teachers are friendly and there are so many classrooms! We played tag, climbed trees… I couldn’t do it very well and I just hung there and couldn’t get down.” Others simply enjoyed the food on offer and boasted the amazing breakfast spread that they woke up to every day. “I enjoyed the food so much at Mount Kelly, I liked the breakfast: sausages, beans and bacon,” said Anna Yu, who is in Year Eight and is no stranger to boarding schools having studied in one on the Mainland before. But perhaps some of the biggest takeaways for the students was gaining a huge sense of confidence, independence and making new friendships. “I had to pack my own bag and we had to do everything ourselves, it was hard living out of a suitcase, but I learnt a lot and now that I am home, I do a lot of things myself,” said William Zhang who is in Year Six. And that is really what the purpose of the programme is about. Helping students to eventually make a seamless transition to its senior school in the UK or elsewhere. “In just one week, the students feel embedded into Mount Kelly, they respond to the teachers well and understand the Mount Kelly way. They see a potential path that they could take – studying overseas,” Rothwell said. “Every school should give the opportunity for children to go overseas on trips, and the fact that we can do that is amazing. To visit our sister school in particular is quite unique,” he added. Indeed, many of the students who went on the trip cannot wait to go back for more. “I would like to go back there again when I’m older,” said Jason Lee who is in Year Six. “The campus is so big, I love their food, I love the yoghurt, the sausages, I love the breakfast.”.