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Farewell Lara and Margaux

Each month we try to publish news which brings to life the experiences of our guardianship students. We offer guardianship services to students at both private and state schools and endeavour to highlight what happens when staying with one of our AEGIS accredited host families across the UK.

We bid farewell to Lara and Margaux who have now flown back home after spending the year in Gloucestershire. Our Local Guardian Louise Bragg sent the following message and photo;

I’ve loved having Lara with us since she came at the beginning of May, and invited Margaux to join us for the last 4 days of their stay. We have had some days out to Gloucester cathedral and Bourton on the Water and tonight I did a little party for them, time to see their friends again and say goodbye before their fight tomorrow.
Just wanted to share a few pictures with you. They have dealt with lockdown very maturely and made the most of their time here.

At WHG we specialise in guardianships which make our students feel at home and are the AEGIS accredited student guardians of choice in the United Kingdom.

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Elspeth in Lockdown

Lockdown has meant that I can’t go to college; however, I have still been able to keep up with my studies and finish my classes for the year even though I am not physically in college. My teachers have been assigning work online over email and teams and the teachers, students and classmates have still stayed connected.

Even though I am no longer able to walk to college, I am still able to get out and take a walk once a day with members of my household. Once surrounded by other students, I am now surrounded by my housemates. This is a chance to get to know my housemates better, one that I did not have when the stress of college and school was hanging over the house. However, I am still looking forward to getting back to my studies.

I now have a larger amount of time to spend focusing on my work, which is why I was able to finish classes so quickly. Before lockdown, I had a strict schedule of doing as much work as possible at college, returning to my house and spending a small amount of time focusing on hobbies, such as reading, music and writing. Now, without that schedule, I have the time to focus on either work or hobbies at any point. This has boosted my responsibility when it comes to my college work because my time for work is not dictated by my college timetable.

I may not be able to say hello to others in and between classes, but I am still able to keep in contact with others over technology.

Without college, I have a lot more time to myself meaning that I have been able to explore my creative side with time to draw, write and play music, piano and the alto recorder. I did not have this time to explore myself with the stress of my academic work. However, I am still looking forward to starting back at college.

I dare to say that I am enjoying this time. I have little, and now no, college work, the chance to expand my creative side and time to relax. Not being able to go out to places does not bother me since I never really enjoyed going out unless it was to explore nature and walk the open fields and hills, which is something I do miss. I am looking forward to getting back to college and having the freedom to walk in nature, however, I am taking advantage of this break as much as I can and I am enjoying it.

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Bosco in Lockdown

During the period of lockdown, like many others, I have found myself in need of finding a new way of living. From living in school 24/7 with a relatively structured routine (especially during my A level year where the stress level is at an all-time high) to canceled examination and having all the free time one can only dream of.

It was challenging when it comes to trying to establish a sense of rhythm to this new ‘normal’. The first few weeks where the regular 6 periods lessons were conducted on Skype, a sense of routine was still there. The support and information my school provided in regards to the now-canceled exams eased my worries towards the next step of higher education. For example, how to provide evidence and how grades may be allocated for our qualifications (questions I’m sure all students across the country worried about during the initial stage of school closure). But as the structure of online lessons came to an end, I once again found myself in need of finding activities to fill my day. From cooking all sorts of dishes and experimenting with foreign cuisines, playing the ukulele to even picking up running on a regular basis. This period has enabled me to pick up the hobbies that I’ve always wanted to do. I also look forward to the weekly Zoom quiz sessions organised by my friends where we do a quiz and just catch up about our week.

One positive of this period is that I got to spend time with my sister whom I’ve not lived with since the age of 11. I’ve relearned to live with a sibling which I’m not used to and just creating memories which we’ve missed out on due to living separately across the world. Besides running and the occasional groceries shop, the amazing weather during these past few weeks led to many outings to the park and sitting in the sun (socially distanced of course!) and just embracing the beauty that mother nature has to provide. Although the reason behind this lockdown is upsetting, this unusual time provides us with an opportunity to pick up new hobbies, living in the moment, and finding new ways to connect with friends and family. I hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy during this time and I’m sure it will soon past and life will return to normal again (however that ‘normal’ maybe).

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Anna in 'Lockdown'

Anna (16 years old) from Austria is a White House Guardians day student on our State School Programme. She attends a local school in Devon and lives full time with a WHG host family.

Anna - 'All my international friends have already gone home, yet I decided to stay here in the UK. I wanted to finish my exchange year. I would’ve probably regretted it for the rest of my life if I didn’t! There was a whole term, the summer term left and so I felt like I would miss out on so much if I went home now. And I was right. It will always be sort of exciting to look back on this year and remember how I experienced a global epidemic in another country while all my friends have lived it through in my home country.

The first few weeks in lockdown went by more than slowly. March felt like lasting two months. Whereas April went by super quickly. This is something I have to be thankful to my host family for, as they have made this chaotic time a little less boring and unbearable, I would say even fun. We tried keeping busy throughout the whole time. Of course we also had days when we didn’t do much but we would’ve had them anyway, without lockdown. Keeping busy is probably the most important thing in times like these. I would like to list a couple of things we have done together with my host family. We have toasted marshmallows, had a bonfire, clapped for the NHS every Thursday evening, refined our cooking skills by trying new recipes, had a lovely breakfast on mother’s day, put up a giant tent in the garden and my host sister had a sleepover in it for one night, cleaned the deck and got some jobs in the garden and around the house done, went on a walk with my host sister to see the sunset almost every evening, went to see the sunset and sunrise by car, made a birthday present and handed it over to my host sibling’s aunty, went on the trampoline, did quizzes with friends of my host family’s, did a live exercise class, turned our dining table into a ping pong table, played badminton and tennis in the garden, went on bike rides, did a puzzle, did some schoolwork, of course, had movie evenings, did a long walk along the seafront as our daily exercise, read a book, and so on...

I could go on for a long time, as my host family is honestly amazing and they have helped me so much through this time. I would probably not have stayed if I didn’t have such a great host family, as it would probably have been boring and these extraordinary times would not have gone by this quickly for me. I am more than happy that I decided to stay and I would’ve definitely decided to again. I hope I can go back to school for another couple of weeks though, as I haven’t even said goodbye to my friends and teachers in school and I would love them to write in my farewell book which they didn’t have a chance to due to our sudden break up from school. Apart from this, I am super happy here at the moment.' At WHG we specialise in guardianships which make our students feel at home and are the student guardians of choice in the UK.

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Margaux in 'Lockdown'

Margaux (14 years-old) from Spain decided to stay in the UK during 'Lockdown'. She continued to live with her WHG host family and 20 minutes away from her twin sister Lara who also decided to stay with her host family.

Margaux - 'I wanted to stay here when lockdown began because I know that the situation in Spain is much worse and while I was talking to my coordinator from Spain, she told me that I would have to do again the same year in Spain as I no longer would have been able to do the homework sent from here. I also love my life here so I would really like to stay as long as I can. My parents also agree with me as they think it’s the best for me.
For me, living in lockdown hasn’t been very difficult as I know how to keep myself busy with different activities that I enjoy, like drawing and painting, playing the guitar, reading and running, plus my host mum has presented me a lot of activities for me to do in case I’m bored.
It’s true though that the beginning wasn’t very easy and I felt very sad that school was over as I wasn’t expecting it at all and I was just starting to make friends and to go out with them. I still sometimes feel sad but I know it’s normal and my sister and my parents are always there to support me. Living with Clare and Kevin during lockdown has been very good and I feel very lucky to have them as my parents. Here is the easter cake that I made and the eggs that I painted whilst in lockdown.'

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Catherine in 'Lockdown'

Catherine (12 years old) is a boarding school student from China using WHG guardianship at Malvern St James Girls School. She is currently doing her school work remotely while living with her WHG host family.

Catherine - 'Me and my parents both choose for me to stay here. It hasn’t been so hard during the lockdown because I can always find something to do, for example, watch movies 🎥, have some plans for the next few months, like helping Jackie (my host mum) in the garden or going for a walk in the countryside where we live. The car boot sale was a brilliant experience with Jackie just before lockdown, we made homemade cakes and sold them for charity. I am really enjoying doing my schoolwork every day on my laptop and chatting with the other girls online, it feels nice that we can talk together from all different places. Jackie cooks really nice meals and we enjoy cooking meals together. Here is me and Jackie with Lou, my local guardian, when she bought me to Jackie’s just before the start of lockdown, enjoying dinner together.'

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Lara in 'Lockdown'

Lara (14-year-old) is from Spain. She lives with a WHG host family and attends a local comprehensive school. Her twin sister Margaux is also living with a WHG host family 20 minutes away from Lara but attends a different school. Both decided to stay in the UK during the 'Lockdown'.

Lara - 'I was the one who decided to go to the Uk for a year because I wanted to take a break from my life in Spain because I wasn’t really happy, and that way I could have a new life with a fresh start for a while, and my parents also thought it was a good way of improving my English. When lockdown began, I thought that I was just wasting my exchange year because I couldn’t do most of the things I came here to do like going to school or being with my friends, but then I got used to it and realised that I was really lucky to be here and not in Spain, because at least here, I can go out and do exercise, and there’s a garden, and in Spain, I would have been really bored. And it hasn’t been difficult, because I get to spend a lot more time with my host family, and do a lot of fun things, and I really enjoy that. Here we are taking some daily exercise together.'

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Why choose WHG and the UK?

My name is Clara Holzer and I went to England with White House Guardianships from September to December 2018. My older brother went for a year to the US and he really enjoyed his time there. That was a motivation for me to go to another country, to live there in a host family and to go to an English school. I was never a quite confident person, so when I left Germany I was kinda scared and I didn't know if it was the right decision to do this foreign experience.

For me, it was really important to stay in a host family, because I was 14 years old during my stay in England and also I'm a family person and I thought it would be really nice to have a host sister or a host brother.

My host family is the best! They made my time in England the best time in my life. They took me to so many places in England and showed me British traditions like a proper Christmas dinner and many more. I've never felt like a person who's just staying at their house, I felt like a real family member and they always helped me out when I had problems. White House Guardianships definitely chose the right host family for me.

The people at school were really open-minded and friendly. Of course, it's at the beginning not easy to make friends, but the other students are all really friendly and caring. Also, my local coordinator from the White House Guardianship agency was really caring and a friendly person and the local coordinators will help you out of any bad situation.

All I can say is that it was one of the best decisions in my life to do this foreign experience! It made me from that shy girl to a confident and brave girl, because now I know that I can achieve so many things, I only have to try it :)

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Happy Spanish students experience a week at a local UK school

Last week we welcomed a group of 30 Spanish students on our Group State School Integration Programme. They had full integration at The Bourne Academy with local British students in Bournemouth finishing their week with a British cream tea. They were a pleasure to host, thanks for choosing WHG!

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Saule (22 years old) flying high after her experience with White House Guardianships 7 years ago!

Saule is now 22 years old but still fondly remembers her experience on our State School Programme, she is still in contact with her local guardian in Exeter (Debbie). Below is her story from then until now.

When I was 15 years old I moved to a small town by the seafront called Teignmouth and joined year 11 in Teignmouth Community School. The first few days felt quite a challenge because everything was really new for me. I've had to make new friends and study really hard because my English level wasn't perfect. After a while I got used to being in a different country and started feeling a lot better every single day. My language improved because I was surrounded by English people all the time, also I've made friends and it was a lot of fun. At school, everyone was really supportive and I really enjoyed the lessons. The biggest challenge was to pass all the exams because year 11 is the last year before you go to college or 6th form.

My original plan was to stay for 1 year but because I enjoyed this program so much I've decided to stay and carry on my studies in college. This decision changed my life completely and I couldn't be happier. So I moved to Exeter city and attended Exeter College studying business and travel & tourism. I had the opportunity to live with local coordinator Deborah of the Exeter area until I finished my program with White House. Whilst with the white house guardianship I always had plenty of support, an endorsement to achieve my dreams. Exeter city has a lot of students because of its college and university so I was able to meet other students from many countries on programs.

Being on the White house program gave me so many opportunities, meeting new people and making new friends, it really improved my language and communication skills. I gained some work experience in customer service which is really useful for me now. I made a lot of friends through College. After so many years we are still really close and like I say they are friends for life. When I finished college, I was working part-time but decided to go back home for a while. Being at home I had an opportunity to start working in aviation as a cabin crew and moved back to England to Manchester. I worked for Lithuanian airline called Small planet but based in Manchester. This was an amazing experience and I met a lot of different people every single day. Our crew was international and it was really interesting to work in that sort of environment. Our passengers were mainly from the UK so I found it really easy to communicate with them and understand their needs because I already had lived in the country for quite a few years and knew the culture. Also, I had an opportunity to travel around Europe. Whilst working for Small planet airlines another great opportunity became available to train and work for Airbaltic airlines based in Riga/Vilnius. I decided not to miss this chance and joined the company.

Now I am traveling around the world and doing what I love. Being on this program with White House Guardianships taught me a lot of things. I now speak fluent English. It helped me to always believe in myself and never give up on whatever you do. Being away from your parents for so long makes you more independent, grown up and look at life from a different perspective. This was an amazing opportunity. I am 22 now and Exeter will always be my second home. I always come back to visit all of my friends and it really does feel like home :).I hope you enjoyed my story and thank you to everyone involved in my journey.

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Mara Tomei - Booked for one year, stayed for three years!

Mara Tomei joined our State School Programme in 2014 for one year to take her GCSEs in year 11 and live with a local host family. She attended Ferndown Upper School and enjoyed her time so much, ended up staying to take her A levels and will be heading to university this September. She has kindly written about her experience:

My name is Mara Tomei and I joined the programme in the school year of 2014/2015. The programme was supposed to only last one year, but here I am in 2017, finishing the last year of my A-levels at an English school. The British way of living and their culture has captivated me, to say the least. Since i went on my first vacation to England I've always wanted to experience living there, so I applied for a year abroad with a UK high school homestay programme. It was very important for my family and me that I would be living with a host family, as i was only 14 years old when i left for the programme and my family wanted the best support for me during my time away from home.

My host family is amazing and we've grown together quite closely. They support me in everything I do and i couldn't ask for a better host family. Of course it is awkward at first, but once you all get to know each other the time together is priceless. Finding friends at school was hard at first, especially because my articulation wasn't the best. However, after spending enough time in lessons together, some English students approached me - mostly out of curiosity i think - but we've been good friends ever since! School and lessons were very different and difficult at the beginning, especially as it was in a completely different language! Once you get used to the whole different education system, it seems like you've never been at school anywhere else.

I am currently studying Biology, Chemistry and Maths in Year 13, which are quite difficult and knowledge heavy subjects, however, I couldn't imagine studying anything else! My plans after I graduate are to either be a Doctor or be involved in Biomedical research, such as epidemiology and immunology, both professions i have always been wanting to do. The programme gave me a second chance to achieve my dreams of becoming a doctor or generally be involved in science, as my work ethic in Germany wasn't appropriate for success, so i fell very far behind. White House Guardianship themselves are a very caring agency and i couldn't have wished for any better! Everyone at White House Guardianships wishes Mara the best of luck in her A Levels and glad she has enjoyed the experience so much. #guardianship

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Queen Margaret's School - York

Will & Peggotty visited Queen Margaret's School in York, December 2016. A beautiful small school for girl's just outside the city of York.

Mrs Katherine Walker, Director or Marketing and Admission gave us a tour of the school and boarding houses. It was a quiet and peaceful tour, the first group of girls we saw were in the sports hall having a PE lesson and in the same building, there is a heated swimming pool.

We then strolled through the campus looking in classrooms some of which only had 6-8 girls in. We then visited a few boarding houses, the first was called Red House which is for Year 1 girls - a very sweet house (with a red door!) it offers a very warm and homely environment for young girls - Katherine said that 85% of the girl's were boarding which sounded perfect for international students at the weekends. After Red House we visited The Cottages which are boarding houses for Year 13 students. They were very amazing and offered the girls a great amount of independent living which is a great step towards university. There were only a small number of girls in each cottage and each of them had their own room as well as a communal kitchen. We spoke to one of the girls who recommended the school and boarding houses with great delight.

A huge thank you to everyone at Queen Margaret's for taking care of us. Best wishes, Will & Peggotty (WHG Head Office)

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Queen Ethelburga’s

Will Hume and Peggotty Moore had the pleasure of visiting Queen Ethelburga’s in November and were amazed at the facilities and the size of the campus.

We were welcomed by Mr Stephen Jandrell and had a meeting with the Deputy Headmaster before being given a tour. It boasts some of the most advanced sporting facilities which includes a state of the art gymnasium as part of their £30 million sports village. Next to the indoor pool were ice baths which we were not tempted by but showed the level of investment in their elite sports programmes.

We were then shown ‘The Atrium’ which is a boarding house which was something we had never seen before. The entrance was lit up with neon lights and at the end of the corridor you come out in to a grand open space with a giant Bumblebee Transformer that must be 20 metres tall! Girls boarding is one side of the block and boys the other side – they can socialise and work in the middle but have no access to each other’s accommodation.

After our tour, we met with the heads of academic and the key contact for pastoral care which was important to see how the school dealt with students who found challenges both inside and outside the classroom.

A morning well spent and certainly a boarding school that is well-equipped for students.

Thank you to all staff for their hospitality at Queen Ethelburga’s from White House Guardianships.

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Happy Host Family in Wales

Mrs McLoughlin sent some wonderful feedback. She hosted Maryam from Germany for 7 months on our State School Programme. Maryam had such a good time, she came back to visit on holiday. Mrs McLoughlin writes; One of your "White House" students that stayed with my family for 7 months returned today to spend her 2 weeks holiday with us and to meet up with the great friends she made in Wales. She's a brave young lady only 15 years old. She said "the experience has given her life skills she never knew she had" and feels a more confident person. Maryam is from Germany and when we meet again today it was like my daughter coming home. We feel Maryam will always be in our lives and part of our family forever. It would be lovely if we could leave stories and pictures like this on our host family profile page for new students to read and allow them to share the experience of other students to give them the confidence they are coming to a happy family. We are so pleased to have such positive feedback from a host family about a student under our guardianship.

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Well done Adrian!!

Congratulations from all of us at WHG on your great achievement. Sue and Richard (the local guardians) sent he following report I went to Adrian 's leaving presentation on Saturday who was given the Headmaster 's award for top achiever, achievement in Latin, swimming award and ICT & computing prize.

He is now leaving Tockington manor to go to Sidcot school. Adrian has been outstanding in the 3 years he has been at the school. Sue & Richard

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Congratulations to Albert

A very special award has been given to Albert studying at Wymondham College at Speech Day. Our local guardian Ingrid was there for him to receive his award and sent he following report:

I spent an enjoyable few hours this weekend at Wymondham College with Albert when he was presented at Speech Day with a special Wymondham College honour cup - The Gail Ferguson Award - this was presented to Albert to mark the positive contribution he has made to school and in particular to Year 13.

Albert has been at Wymondham since 2011 and has been very notably positive in his approach to his studies and to his fellow students from the outset. It has always been a pleasure for me to meet with him and to engage in many long and interesting conversations - often related to history or politics as well as school matters. He is very outgoing and always impeccably mannered. He has now finished his A level studies in History, Sociology and Maths - Albert hopes to study politics at Warwick. Everyone at White House Guardianships wishes Albert the best of luck for the future!

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Farewell to two of our German students in Bristol

Sue and Richard, local guardians for Bath/Bristol thought they would take their students for a catch-up at the Jolly Sailor in Bristol. Two of their students left at the weekend and what better way to say goodbye than a good British pub lunch!

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Isle of Wight Students Head to an Ice-Hockey Match

Our students on the Isle of Wight we're invited to watch a local ice-hockey match with their who reports; The ice-hockey was really good fun and the action happened so fast! The Wightlink Raiders are always at the top of the league and their matches are fast and furious! We all enjoyed the evening and it was great to spend some time relaxing and having fun together. Watch this space for more events, especially as the weather warms up and we head for the beach! Debbie (Local guardian for the Isle of Wight)

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Star Media Student

Well done Jan from Germany. This photo was taken last Tuesday evening at a sixth form open evening for Sandown Bay Academy which our local guardian Debbie attended.
Jan is studying creative media as one of his subjects and he has produced a promotional video for Chocolate Island, an island business based in Godshill, which makes its own chocolate in an amazing range of flavours including garlic, of course! He is one of three teams who have been involved in this project.
If his entry is chosen, it will be broadcast on the ferries. It was great to see him at the evening being so enthusiastic about his work on the project. Best of luck!

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Selfie Competition in Torbay

We have recently run a competition for our local students. We set them the challenge of taking a selfie with her host family, with a catch, everybody had to be pulling a silly face. Please see attached the Winner - Paula from Germany She will soon be receiving a large tub of chocolates as a prize!

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