St Peters staff create close community with Adopt-a-Boarder Program

St Peters’ Adopt-a-Boarder Program is growing every year. Since it began 10 years ago over 300 boarders have been adopted from over 20 different countries. Throughout the Program over 200 St Peters staff have been involved with adopting boarders, being a part of their lives, and getting to know their families.  

St Peters Teacher, for Years 8–12, Linda Farrell and St Peters Director of Sport, Shaun Nodwell, talk about the benefits of the Program in building a family/community focus. 

Shaun’s involvement began when the Program first started. “I knew it was a great concept because a lot of the boarders are involved with sport so I thought my involvement would be important.

“Because our swim program is international I adopt a couple of the international swimmers every year,” says Shaun. “I know the challenges they face being away from home and I know what their swimming training is like as well."

Sharing memories with families

Shaun maintains his group is the most multicultural this year. “This year I have one boarder from Shanghai, China, one from Wellington, New Zealand, one from Hope Vale near Cairns and one from Jakarta, Indonesia—so it’s a big mix.” One of Shaun’s boarders is from St Peters’ Indigenous Program while the other three are involved with the St Peters swim program.

One of the most important things is to “talk to the kids about anything but school,” says Shaun. “When I take the boarders out I try and think of the best things Brisbane has to offer. I like to take them to Mount Coot-tha for the first time, or go to South Bank. I try and be a south-east Queensland tour guide and go to the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast. I’ve done that a few times. You think about it… taking an international student to the Gold Coast beach for the first time is pretty amazing.”

Being a friend

Linda has been involved with the Program for over six years and advises, “have some fun with the kids. Listen to them—it’s hard for teachers not to teach so don’t be a teacher, just be a friend.”

From the parents’ perspective, “I think it’s really comforting to know someone is here who is an extra in their life,” says Linda. “We keep a gentle eye on them.”

From the boarding students’ perspective, “I hope they see a happy, smiling face around campus. We want to be someone they can trust,” says Linda.