A group of year nine and 10 students from St Mary’s College Seymour have returned from an Indonesian Study Tour where they connected with a partner school in Borneo.
The main focus of the tour was to meet BRIDGE partner school SMP NEGERI 20 Singkawang, a junior secondary school in West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.
The ‘Building Relationships through Intercultural Dialogue and Growing Engagement’ program, by Asia Education Foundation, assists schools in Australia to build an on-going relationship with a partner school in Asia.
St Mary’s College Seymour languages leader Angela Molinaro said the two schools had been connected since 2015 when two teachers from Singkawang came to St Mary’s College and two teachers went from Seymour to Singkawang.
“Since that time, we have shared letters, posters, emails, social media posts and more,” she said.
“In 2017, a group of our students visited Jogjakarta in Indonesia and six students from Singkawang were able to meet us there.
“This year, we achieved our aim of sending 10 of our students to Singkawang to directly interact with our partner school students.”
Kade Altas, Skaife Brock, Jack Chetcuti, Polly Duff, Renee Indich Navon, Jack Lawrence, Tristan Murphy, Dominic Plessey, Cadence Verhoef and Matthew Whitfort were accompanied by Ms Molinaro, St Mary’s College Seymour principal Wayne Smith and Indonesian teacher Jacqueline Cullum.
Ms Molinaro said despite difficulty getting to Singkawang due to forest fires, the delegation received a warm welcome.
“We arrived in Singkawang in time for a wonderful ‘welcome ceremony’ performed by the local students,” she said.
“There was a marching band, a procession with flag-waving, dance performances representing traditional Indonesian and Australian cultural groups, speeches by a range of local dignitaries, Indonesian food and then even more dancing.
“Our students were dressed in traditional clothes representing different ethnic groups in Indonesia and joined in the dancing and were quickly drawn into groups of local students for photos.”
During the three days in Singkawang, the group visited several schools and sites such as Chinese temples, mosques, traditional villages and were interviewed on local radio.
“It is hoped that we will continue to communicate with our partner school friends through shared school activities and, on a more personal level, through social media,” Ms Molinaro said.
“While the experience had its challenges, the rewards of personal and intercultural growth made it worthwhile.”