Three students from St. Margaret’s Anglican School in Brisbane, Australia, recently returned home after completing an 8-week exchange program at GPS. While this is the first year of the exchange program between GPS and St. Margaret’s, St. Margaret’s is paired with 14 other international schools as well for similar exchange opportunities.
Designed to help students gain perspective of others around the world and understand both the differences and similarities between cultures, the program underscores a key point of the 2023-2028 Strategic Plan: GPS’s commitment to celebrate community and connection by offering authentic experiences that build students’ awareness and understanding of the wider world and their place in it.
In October, Emelia Buys, Lily Hicks, and Georgia Lillicrap, all sophomores, made their way to Chattanooga so they could attend classes at GPS while living with GPS host families. During their stays, Emelia lived with Anna Grau ’26 and her family, Lily lived with Lucy Faler ’26 and her family, and Georgia lived with Caroline Carpenter ’26 and her family.
Georgia said her motivation for applying for the exchange program was to experience a change in her lifestyle and visit one of the most famous countries in the world. “Although I love Australia, I had lived on the same comfortable street for my whole life; that didn't feel like enough exposure to the world,” she said.
In comparing St. Margaret’s to GPS, she explained that St. Margaret’s is a lot of fun but a bit stricter and larger. “Although the immense range of people and opportunities allow me to see many different aspects of school life, there is something special about the GPS campus and the tight connection you have to one another,” she said.
In January, Anna, Lucy, and Caroline will venture to St. Margaret’s to complete a similar 8-week stint, and they will live with the same students they hosted in the U.S. While there, they will take a full schedule of classes, participate in activities, do some regional travel, and truly live the life of a St. Margaret’s girl.
Dr. Beth Creswell Wilson ’96, Head of Upper School at GPS, said, “The program is well-suited to girls who are curious about the world, flexible and open-minded to other cultures and ways of doing things, and eager to connect with others.”
In addition to the student exchange program, the two schools have established a shortened teacher exchange program. Dr. Jordan McCarter ’96 will head to Australia at the same time as the GPS sophomores and serve as a travel companion. While in Brisbane, Dr. McCarter will have the opportunity to compare and learn about different education systems, to exchange ideas and knowledge, and to contribute to her own professional development and that of her colleagues.
The teacher exchange program, which runs approximately two weeks, aims to foster communication, goodwill, and the exchange of ideas between our sister school and GPS as well as promote networking between students, teachers, and schools.
This spring, GPS students will be encouraged to apply for next year’s exchange.
Before heading home, we asked Georgia and Lily to try out some classic American snacks while sharing insight into their experiences. Watch here!