Scotch Oakburn College’s Inspiring Commitment to their Timor Leste Partner School

This month, the second group of staff and student representatives from Scotch Oakburn College headed to Timor Leste to visit their partner school, Maliana One High School. We were thrilled that Principal Andrew Barr also joined the group and signed a pledge of commitment and service to the College’s partner community.

It was another remarkable journey, filled with highlights and milestones. The first morning in Maliana brought dancing at 5:00am with the students from the Encouragement House, before the group headed out to watch the Tour De Timor bike race through the town. Each day was filled with lots of English language tutoring- working in small groups at the Encouragement House and at Maliana One, and the Scotch Oakburn teachers also ran a session for pre-service teachers at the local university. One evening, the group shared dinner with a local family just outside Maliana, who are campaigning to get a library built in a nearby village. This is an amazing project that we hope we will be able to gain Australian support for.

Following their first visit in 2011, the Scotch Oakburn College community raised an amazing $3,000 for their partner school. The group had the privilege of donating the funds on behalf of the community, which will enable Maliana One to install fresh drinking water for their 1300 students and 55 staff. The group also worked hard to set up an IT system for the Maliana teachers, including an internet connection, 2 computers and 1 printer, as well as contributing educational resources to the school. This support was in direct response to the areas of need identified by Maliana One, and was an extremely exciting journey to be a part of.

Funds from the group’s visit and Destination Dreaming were also used to buy materials and pay local builders to construct another student shelter for the new dormitory ‘Kookaburra’. The shelters have proved to be a real hit and it was great to see the students (from both Scotch Oakburn and the Encouragement House) assisting the builders to prepare the site and foundation.

At the conclusion of the 10 days, 18-year-old Kathleen said ‘I have learnt that giving is a truly fantastic experience and that making a change in one person’s life, changes the world for them. I had the best week of my life and as a result will endeavour to share and continue to give for the rest of my life.’

Scotch Oakburn teacher Tania Deguara said, ‘once again the experience was incredible. Cultural awareness, global understanding, problem solving and collaboration are essential skills to have to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. A Destination Dreaming program provides an excellent opportunity for young people to learn about and experience the challenges, hopes and possibilities of another culture and in turn learn about the ways they as young people in Australia can shape the world they want to live in.’

A huge thank-you to the entire Scotch Oakburn College community, particularly coordinating teachers Andrew French and Tania Deguara, for another amazing adventure.

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