The New Brunswick-based elementary school teacher and vice-principal spent the past year teaching on Phillip Island, Victoria, off the coast of Australia, as part of a family exchange program through the Canadian Education Exchange Foundation.
The Beckers — Christoph, Pamela (’97), and their two teenage sons — left home for Australia in December 2012. The exchange saw them trading houses with the Carlson family. Christoph taught a Grade 3/4 split at Cowes Primary School.
“I taught at a grade level I had never taught before, in a country I had never been to,” he says. “It was a great learning experience.”
Pamela, who also works in the school system, spent the year working at home and taking courses through correspondence. “The exchange gave us a new pace and perspective,” she says. “The Australian school system runs on a different calendar than our North American one. There are three or four small breaks over the school year with a shortened summer break. We were able to use this time to explore some of Australia, learning more about the culture, and to travel to New Zealand.”
Christoph and Pamela met at Mount Allison and say Mount A was helpful in preparing them for this adventure.
“I participated in the Strasbourg exchange program when I was taking my BSc,” says Christoph. “This experience living abroad gave me the courage for Australia, knowing that our family could do this.”