Seeing the world with new eyes
Our Year 9 students have acquired a deeper global awareness and understanding of other cultures through our Urban Journeys program.
In an increasingly interconnected world, today's young generation need to engage with people from a wide range of cultures and traditions. As part of the Urban Journeys program, our Year 9 Pastoral Care groups each chose a different culture or community in Sydney that they wanted to learn more about. The girls conducted their own research and planning, before embarking on a day of discovery with their Pastoral Care teacher, presenting their findings to their peers the following day.
French novelist Marcel Proust once observed that “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new lands but in seeing with new eyes”. To gain a deeper understanding of how other people experience the world, our students visited Chinese temples in Glebe, ate at Vietnamese restaurants, made Japanese origami and visited the Jewish Museum.
Ms Poole’s Pastoral Care Group chose to investigate Israeli and Jewish culture. “We travelled as a group into the city and the girls spoke with Susan Hollis of the Sydney Jewish Museum, learning about Jewish religion and culture. They were fascinated by Susan's explanation of the differing elements of Jewish faith and how it is complimented by the interpretations of different rabbis, ensuring the Jewish people have freedom in terms of how they too, interpret their ancient faith. They were then privileged to meet and speak with Ms Susan Warhaftig, who as a child, survived when the Nazis occupied her native Vienna. While Susan and her mother were able to escape by being smuggled into Hungary and hiding in a peasant village, her father and brother were both murdered by the Nazi regime.”
“After reflecting, the girls and myself travelled to Shenkin Israeli eatery in Darlinghurst, where we sampled traditional Israeli food including Sabih, Ziva and Malawach. It was delicious and the girls enjoyed the new tastes and textures. The following day we presented to the Year Group on our experiences, all of which the girls felt were great.”
Mrs Oakley’s Pastoral Care Group chose to learn about Aboriginal culture, travelling to the Northern Beaches where some Aboriginal sites are older than the pyramids. They saw middens, rock carvings, camp sites, rock shelters and artwork.
They met with an Aboriginal Elder who took them on a bush walk where they were able to sample bush tucker and participate in an Ochre Ceremony. The students said, “Collins Flat beach is a traditional sacred women’s place, as it is where the freshwater meets the seawater. We collected shells in order to connect the land to the ceremony. Caroline, an Indigenous Australian, met us at this beach and talked us through the significance of the ceremony, and relevance towards us, as it was about transitioning from a young girl to women. We were particularly interested to learn that she had to be given permission to conduct the ceremony, reiterating the presence of the Indigenous connection with the land and traditions. The Ochre Ceremony for young women is part of the celebration of the transition from young girl (wani) to women, by vowing to honour and respect one another. It is conducted by mixing ochre dust with water to create a thin, clay-like paste. It is then placed on the face, with a dot on the forehead, each temple and the chin. It is usually done by an already initiated woman. The day provided us with great insight into Indigenous culture and its relevance to Australian society. It stressed to us the importance of considering different perspectives, having empathy and not assuming information regarding culture. Although Australia is becoming widely multicultural it is imperative that we recognise the Indigenous culture as part of Australia’s history.”
Sophia was thrilled to experience Japanese culture in Sydney. “We completed five activities throughout the day. This included sushi making, a visit to the lower Asian gallery of the NSW Art Gallery, Lunch at Yayoi Gardens, a visit to Purikura Photoland (a Japanese arcade) and some origami making. Our Pastoral Care Group went into this experience wanting to explore aspects of both ancient and modern Japanese culture, and learn about food and art. We feel that we successfully completed these goals and we all thoroughly enjoyed the day. Overall it was an eye-opening and rewarding experience which has allowed us to brush the surface of the rich Japanese culture present in Sydney and has opened doors for ongoing connection with, and exploration of, the Japanese community here.”
Through the Urban Journeys program, our students learned to engage with diverse cultures in ways that recognise commonalities and differences, create connections, and cultivate mutual respect.