Wednesday 8 March was International Women’s Day. For the past three years, Whitefriars has joined Our Lady of Sion College to mark this special day. For the past two years, we have taken approximately 40 Senior and Middle Years students to participate in conversations with the girls around issues of gender equality, masculinity/femininity, respectful relationships and mental health. It was fantastic to see all students engaged in meaningful discussions and developing a shared understanding of the views and perspectives of boys and girls. Below are some reactions of a few of the boys who attended:
Maximillion Ceppi: I thoroughly enjoyed the day. It provided a great insight into the different experiences’ women face compared to men. The day allowed me to come back with a new view on my actions (and the actions of those around me) and gave some great ideas on how to better improve our education on this matter.
Jack Apostopoulos: We travelled to Sion to discuss the meaning of International Women’s Day, how it influenced us, how it has been taught and celebrated. We participated in a ‘conversation café’ – an environment which encouraged the sharing of personal opinions and offered opportunities for learning with student leaders in the same year levels as us. The conversations were held in small groups and embraced each person’s own opinions, experiences, and teachings. The additional perspective of the girls as they shared their own, personal lived experiences had me consider how I conduct myself and my own actions; not only as a member of Whitefriars but in my life away from school.
The discussed topics of consent, body image, the prevalence – as well as the effects – of social media within adolescence, safety in public and the different challenges women face were all topics that I have never had the opportunity to talk about and hear other people’s opinions on. An aspect which stood out for me was when all the girls mentioned the extra alertness they possess in public to keep themselves and friends safe from strangers.
This experience was invaluable in understanding the different struggles that women my own age go through daily, and the role both men and women have to highlight these and act together to eliminate these.
Harry Evans: Overall, I thought it was a great experience, and I felt I learnt a lot about the Sion girls’ different opinions and ideas. I realised they have very different perceptions and beliefs compared to us; however, we are still able to agree on most prompts.
A little side note – I was shocked at how different their school grounds are, I have never felt so fortunate walking back down the top carpark and into our massive, open campus.
Liam Webb: I really enjoyed the day we had at Sion for International Women’s Day. It helped me learn more about what challenges women face daily compared to men. The discussion we had also helped me realise what I can do moving forward to improve the education of others so that as a community we can move in the right direction.
Samuel Lochner: The International Women’s Day event / discussion at Our Lady of Sion College was a truly eye-opening experience. At an ‘all-boys’ school such as Whitefriars, we can often struggle to see our society from that other lens, or have discussions and learning opportunities with the opposite gender in such a way, but I really do feel that this assembly of sorts totally changed that. It gave me insight into the thoughts, trials, and hopes of young women in our contemporary society.
One interesting topic of contention I feel that may be worthy to look at in future instances is what action we can actually take in the present moment to help break down these social issues, instead of just talking about them and trying to raise awareness, so that we can take a more active role in a better future.
Johnny Papadopoulos: Our trip to Our Lady of Sion College for IWD 2023 was a positive experience. For me, I was able to hear the opinions of girls my age and discuss any differences we had or further dive into topics we both mutually agreed on. I was able to understand firsthand by listening to these girls about the troubles they have around the inequality of women. The discussions focussed on how we can give females the same opportunities as men.
Joel Savy: I really enjoyed the experience once again. After doing it last year I knew what I was getting into and how to contribute well to discussions. The discussion prompts were good starting points to lead us into other areas of discussion, and they were mostly accessible topics to all participants. I personally learnt and gained a greater understanding in the meaning of gender, especially to younger people, and why it is an important thing to understand in modern society.
Acelin Adama: The experience of visiting Sion was very insightful. It was beneficial for offering both sets of students differing perspectives than we are accustomed to hearing; this made us value the importance of listening to others more than we usually would. I think in the future it would be advantageous to include one-on-one discussions between the Whitefriars students and the Sion students, as it was evident that some people were not particularly comfortable sharing to the wider group. Overall, I think the growing discourse between our two schools is headed in the right direction, and events like this will only help build a stronger connection between Whitefriars and Sion.
Thank you to Our Lady of Sion College, particularly, Christine Kralj, for welcoming us so warmly and giving our boys this especially important opportunity. We will continue to foster meaningful links between the two schools to help all students develop and learn from each other.
Mr Mick Lafferty
Deputy Principal – Students