Davis was putting his language skills to good use in Europe, travelling through Prague then Berlin when he heard the news.
“I was shocked,” said Davis. “I didn’t think the exam went that well, so I was pretty surprised. I guess you never know.
“I’m very grateful to my teachers, who were awesome.
“I didn’t try very hard from Years 7 to 10, and decided I wanted to do better. Learning a beginner language gave me a fresh start.”
Davis, who learnt Italian from Kindergarten at IGS and decided to expand his language skills from the start of Year 11, is keen to study international relations and languages at Australian National University from 2019.
In 2018 Davis was awarded a number of prizes at IGS for his academic efforts, including first place in German Beginners, Italian Continuers, Italian Extension and Visual Arts, and the Larissa Streeter Languages Prize.
In related news, Davis’s Visual Arts Major Work Drag Dictionary (Lavender Linguistics) has been selected for HSC Showcase ARTEXPRESS, along with the works of three other IGS students.
“I loved school at IGS,” said Davis. “In my personal opinion, there’s nothing better than human connection, and language is the means for that.”
Now on the way to Spain and Italy before returning to Australia in January, Davis said using other languages was “fun”. “It makes travel a lot easier and makes it easy to make friends,” he said.
Davis served as a student leader and was an excellent debater and public speaker, winning a number of regional awards. While at IGS, Davis organised a charity basketball game for headspace, donations to Westmead Children’s Hospital, and a material aid drive for refugees arriving in Australia.
“We’re all absolutely thrilled for Davis!” said IGS Principal Shauna Colnan. “His passion for learning and particularly for learning languages was always evident at IGS. His curiosity and openness will take him far in his life beyond school.”
“This is brilliant,” said IGS Director of Languages Rosalba Genua-Petrovic. “I knew he could do it.
“Our students are prime beginner language learners, because they can build on their knowledge of how to learn a language.”
The result is one of a number of firsts in languages achieved by IGS students in recent years, in Extension, Continuer and Beginner categories.
Davis had previously told one of his language teachers that learning a language from Kindergarten was a life changing experience, as it helped him realise that “the things that set us apart – language, culture, identity – are the things that we should celebrate and not hide”.
“When we read such words we can say that as language teachers we have done our job, for this understanding is so much greater than any number,” his teacher said.
“IGS is on the way up,” Rosalba said. “Forwards and upwards!”
Davis’s mother, Donna Woodburne, said he was “really lucky” to have had excellent German language teachers at IGS and that he worked “very hard”. “We are absolutely thrilled for him,” she said.
“The main thing is he was incredibly happy and loved it. He just did his own thing, which is great.”