Developing intercultural understanding is important for our students so that they take responsibility for their actions, respect and value diversity, and see themselves as global citizens who can contribute to a more peaceful, just and sustainable world. The College curriculum, excursions, retreats, camps and trips/tours immersions are developed with intercultural learning and dialogue in mind.
During the final week of the semester, forty students and five staff travelled to the Northern Territory for the Indigenous Immersion. Below are some reflections of this intercultural opportunity from the Year 10 and 11 students.
“All the Minyerri mob can now head to the oval to play footy with our brothers from another mother”.
We were welcomed into the Tiwi community as soon as we left the ferry. Mr Height introduced us to people on Bathurst Island who he knew from playing football for the Tiwi Bombers. We were introduced to Simon Munkara, who worked in the school to ensure students attended; his job was ensuring everyone went to school. Culture and family situations can influence school attendance. Sila Pati was picking up students for a boarding school on another island to ensure students did receive their education. We were fortunate to meet Sr Anne Gardiner, AM in the museum who shared with us her work in supporting the Tiwi people, the history of the Church in the community, and aspects of the culture.
Matthew Dickenson, Year 10
Arriving in Darwin, we acclimatised to the hot weather at our accommodation at the Michael Long Leadership Centre, adjacent TIO Stadium and several sports facilities. During our time in Darwin, the group was introduced to Jason Jones, who runs the First Steps Development Program, a program focusing on providing skills and jobs to disengaged youths. First Steps build infrastructure for aboriginal communities. It was enjoyable meeting Jason, a Whitefriars parent, listening to how he is supporting others in the community. Time was spent exploring the Darwin Waterfront and water park in the afternoon before playing a football game against the NT Thunder 16’s and 18’s representative side. Under the hot sun, the boys came up short by a goal. It was more than just a trip, it was a life changing experience.
Henry Ameer, Year 10
At Katherine Gorge (320km south of Darwin), three indigenous speakers from Jawoyn country captivated us with their knowledge. As we walked through the Nitmiluk National Park bushland we learnt about beliefs, thousands of years old rock art, and how to hunt wildlife. We tried throwing a spear, lighting a fire, and playing the didgeridoo. Katherine Gorge’s landscape was simply outstanding, the sunset cruise in the Gorge allowed us to be in awe of the untouched, unrefined environment. All tour guides had a great understanding of the rich history as they were all from the Jawoyn country of the Katherine region. The relationships and experiences that we all had in this part of our journey allowed us to connect and further understand the purpose of the trip.
Luke De Goldi, Year 11
Minyerri Indigenous Community, Northern Territory
Before the immersion, we learnt that the remote Indigenous community Minyerri is a town 240 kilometres south-east of Katherine with a population of 400 people. When we arrived at the school, we were greeted with heaps of happy children! A talk from the Alawa country traditional owners and elders provided interesting information about culture – skin name, sacred sites, language and the meaning of the land in dreamtime stories. In exploring the community, the children have one love and that is for footy! So, the Whitefriars boys decided to play a game against the children. We were taken aback by the amazing skills that the children showed and we were soundly beaten! Our day at the local waterhole with the local Aboriginal children was a highlight, as we got to spend many hours with our new friends. We shared stories and learnt about their indigenous culture and in return, we taught the children how we live our life! Of course, we also shared a lunch together and all of us enjoyed our hot dogs and sausages! It was extremely sad to leave somewhere, where we think we left an impression on the local children and gave them excitement for two days. Minyerri was certainly an experience that I will never forget!
Oscar Bourke, Year 11
Upon arrival in Minyerri, I was confronted by the poverty that the community was living. This was soon forgotten, as we arrived at the school and saw all the kids smiling. The joy that we brought to their lives in this moment, this made me feel nothing but happiness. These kids were something else, they taught me so much about myself and this world. The main thing that really impacted me was, how happy the kids of Minyerri were and that no matter what they had been through they always would have a smile on their face. One moment that will stay with me for the rest of my life was when we were playing footy on the oval with the kids – it made me feel so alive, think how lucky I am, and realise how amazing our country is. My time in Minyerri, will last with me forever as it was more than just a trip, it was a life changing experience.
Baxter House, Year 10
Litchfield National Park
Litchfield National Park was a great experience for all the boys. Swimming at the waterholes was an experience that I will never forget. The vast landscapes of red rock and greenery will be something that will forever stick in the back of my head. Litchfield needs to be seen to be believed and I would encourage anyone who is offered this great opportunity to take it with open hands. Originally home to the Wagait people it is an opportunity to connect with the land. The national park has encounters with waterfalls, rock pools, termite mounds, rainforests and historic ruins. I am truly grateful to have had this experience and would definitely love to visit Litchfield National Park in the future.
Declan Hickey, Year 11
“It was more than just a trip, it was a life changing experience.” Baxter House and Henry Ameer
Deputy Principal – Learning & Teaching