What Did 2012 Hold For Our Partner Schools Across Australia?

As this is our last news item for 2012, we wanted to highlight some of the wonderful work school communities around Australia have been involved in this year. We hope this gives you a little extra inspiration to take into your school activities for 2013.
In 2012 we were lucky enough to work with 112 wonderful young people and teachers from 8 school communities across Australia, New Zealand and England. Schools and community groups from Tasmania, Victoria, New Zealand and England joined us on community engagement and intercultural learning programs across Asia Pacific and Africa. In case you missed them during the year, check out the full story from each of these programs by clicking the relevant link:

  • Round Square delegates from Scotch Oakburn College and Westfield School (all the way from the United Kingdom) connected with a remote school in the Ngong Hills, Kenya;
  • The male members of the Goodrick Family headed to Fiji for a community engagement program;
  • Sacred Heart College from Hobart connected with a Junior School in rural Timor;
  • 14 delegates and co-Directors headed to Timor Leste for the fourth consecutive United Nations Youth Australia Pacific Project;
  • St Michael’s Collegiate headed to Central Australia for their first program connecting with Yipirinya Primary School;
  • A second group of staff and students from Scotch Oakburn College, including the College Principal, completed their second visit to their partner community in Timor Leste;
  • Melbourne High School students visited their partner community in West Arnhem for the second consecutive year;
  • Program Director Clint Miller trained two groups of indigenous employees at Xstrata Mine and led a four-week indigenous training program on behalf of Beyond Billabong.

We are so excited about the programs coming up for 2013, as the community partnerships of each of our client schools continue to grow and more young people have the opportunity to learn and engage with their peers across the world.
Keen to see your school on this list for 2013? Get in touch in the New Year to capture the amazing opportunities for your staff and students that arise through engagement with another community, and the critical life lessons for young people through getting outside the classroom to learn about themselves, culture and social justice.
Finally, best wishes from all here at Destination Dreaming for a fantastic summer holiday break and rewarding 2013.

Opportunities to Discover Ancient Australia in Outback NSW

Kate and Clint Miller have just returned from four days journeying through outback Australia. The purpose of this visit was to establish a program for a Tasmanian school, which will connect them with a community in outback NSW and provide an insight into local Aboriginal culture, history, traditions and life in rural Australia. All up, we crossed over 1000 kilometres in just two and a half days- the bulk on red dirt roads.

We were extremely fortunate to travel with Robert Biggs, and local Aboriginal man, Ricky Mitchell. Robert runs the Mungo Youth Project and Ricky is a Community Projects Coordinator for the World Heritage listed Mungo National Park.

Arriving to hot, dry weather in Mildura, we headed straight out to Mungo to learn about the ancient Aboriginal history of the region. This also provided a great opportunity to consider student accommodation- in a selection of converted shearers’ quarters.

The next morning we were up early to explore significant indigenous sites at Mungo, before heading to Menindee. We arrived in time to attend the local school assembly welcoming the Governor of NSW, before settling into accommodation in a renovated train carriage.

We were lucky to be invited to join an evening of celebration at Menindee also attended by the Governor, and the production of ‘Weeping Cloud’. ‘Weeping Cloud’ tells the story of a local Menindee elder who was part of the Stolen Generation. It was beautifully performed by students and staff of Menindee Central, who were joined by members of the local community in the choir. Read more

Melbourne High Students Return Home from the Territory with New Perspectives

During the September 2012 holiday break, 20 Year 10 Melbourne High School boys connected with the rural communities of Jabiru and Gunbalanya in the Northern Territory. This was the second consecutive visit for Melbourne High School to the West Arnhem communities.

The focus this year was on stepping up the engagement and further developing the relationship between the two schools and communities. The boys were so excited at Tullamarine Airport before their flight. Heading up to the Top End to experience firsthand life in a rural community and meet with Indigenous students their own age was an adventure just thinking about it…

Most of the Melbourne boys had never been to the Top End or even met an Aboriginal person before. Reflecting on his expectations before the program, 16-year old Sam said: ‘[b]efore the program my perception of Aboriginal people was that they all lived in the wild and still speared their food. But since having experienced this program, I now have a small insight in to how amazing and skilled Aboriginal people have to be to live in two vastly different cultures and try to respect both.’

The group had an amazing mix of ethnic backgrounds including: Chinese, Malay, Vietnamese, Indian, Sri Lankan, European and Northern American, which made the program even more special as we were literally bringing the world to rural Australia.
The boys spent the first couple of days acclimatising to the warm weather and doing some field trips on country to get familiar with their new environment. They visited Jim Jim and Twin Falls, and enjoyed an activity of silence on Ubirr Rock aiming to connect to the land.

After this induction to the environment, it was time for the boys to meet the people. On Monday they were invited into the classrooms of the Jabiru campus to work with their peers. This included maths, science, sports, music and culture. The boys cooked a BBQ for the Culture First program, which was greatly appreciated and followed immediately by another game of AFL and basketball.

Over the week, the Melbourne High boys grew very close with the local Aboriginal boys and quickly realised just how much they all had in common. One 15-year old Chinese-Australian student, Roy, said ‘I just meet this guy Junior [a local Aboriginal student] and when we went to shake hands we automatically did the same hand shake, then we talked and realised we love the same music and DJ, we both love dancing, the same football team…how can a Chinese kid from Melbourne have so much in common with an Aboriginal kid from Jabiru? This is amazing…I love Junior.’

After the week in the school, the boys then visited Gunbalanya and released a 6-foot crocodile into Cahill’s Crossing. The time in Gunbalanya was amazing as they experienced the Culture First week, learning all about bush tucker, culture and the local language. The boys tasted turtle, magpie geese and buffalo, as well as learning about spear throwing and traditional cooking methods.

The program concluded with a 12km bush walk, led by a traditional Aboriginal man who is a custodian of the land we walked. It was hot, hilly and challenging for the boys, but they never gave up, remained positive and grew from the experience.

For many of the boys the highlight of the program was the reflection session we did on Darwin waterfront in preparation for our return to Melbourne. Their insights were amazing and showed that they truly understood the experience and education behind the program. Young people never cease to amaze us at Destination Dreaming and this group was no exception.

Thank you to all the parents from Melbourne High School that supported their son to be a part of this program. It was a privilege to have worked with them and you would have been very proud of them.

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.

Sharing Stories at the Melbourne Education Show

Earlier this month, Destination Dreaming’s Program Director Clint Miller ran a workshop for teachers at the Education Show in Melbourne. Clint facilitated a 45-minute workshop on creating effective community partnerships and we were overwhelmed by the wonderful feedback. Many of the attendees were looking to extend their community engagement and service learning activities, yet lacked a framework or knowledge of principles for successful and sustainable community development.

We were thrilled to have teachers report that they left with a clear pathway to commence or extend their community engagement, and are looking forward to working with many of them in the future. If you are interested in this topic, we have uploaded the overview slides shown at the workshop, which you can download here. Or don’t hesitate to give us a call on (03) 5255 5830.

UN Youth Delegates Experience International Development In Action

What is the best way to learn about the United Nations and the life of an international aid worker? As ten teenagers recently discovered, by downing the textbooks and immersing themselves in a developing country.

Destination Dreaming led the annual United Nations Youth Australia Pacific Project for the fourth consecutive year in July, facilitating a program for 10 teenagers selected from schools across Australia. The youth delegates travelled to Timor Leste to learn about our close neighbour and see development in action.

The program was designed to provide the young people with a deep insight into community-driven development, which included:

  • Morning tea with Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and observing the national elections;
  • Meeting with AusAid and the Alola Foundation established by Australian woman Kirsty Sword Gusmao;
  • Living at the Encouragement House, a highland boarding house for rural Timorese students;
  • Hearing from members of the UN Police about working in East Timor; and
  • Funding an art project for students in remote Timor.

Reflecting on the Project, Jessica said “this has been truly invaluable. The relationships I’ve established in communities that accepted and welcomed us wholeheartedly have been life-changing and enabled me to believe in myself and my dreams. I have learned that community is the most attainable and important aspect of life. Whilst national development is at times an overwhelming concept, the starting block will always be building relationships.”

Jordan said the Project “allowed me to see development on a national scale. It changed me as a person…it provided a body of knowledge and experiences that I can draw on for the rest of my life, and connected me with a network of like-minded people who have become life-long friends.”

The delegation formed the third consecutive Pacific Project to Timor Leste, continuing the relationship United Nations Youth Australia and Destination Dreaming have built with the Encouragement House and Timorese community. Click here to see some photos from the Pacific Project.

We also met some fantastic community organisations that would love to form a partnership with an Australian community, so please send us an email or call (03) 5255 5830 to hear about opportunities for your school or organisation.

A Personal and Professional Journey in Beautiful Indonesia

For the past five weeks, Destination Dreaming’s Kate Miller has been in Canggu, Bali- on an amazing personal and professional adventure. On the truly intercultural, teacher training program, Kate joined 34 other participants from Japan, America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Brazil for the program, which included a specialisation in programs for children and teenagers.

Kate had committed to the training with specific Destination Dreaming program development in mind, but she soon found it was going to provide a profound source of personal development as well. Woken by the sound of the neighbouring mosque at 5:00am each morning, walking past rice paddies for class at sunrise, exploring mind-opening philosophies and techniques for mental and physical wellbeing, dancing in the middle of the day as if no one was watching, meditation on the beach at sunset, fiery wok meals at the roadside warung and plenty of great waves at nearby Tugu beach… it was truly a period of great personal growth and inspiration for new programs.

Based on the foundations learned over the past five weeks, Kate is now developing a week long program for young people that will be offered in Australia. This is something we have been keen to develop for some time, to provide a local opportunity for schools and students, in addition to our global and interstate programs.The 5-day intra and interpersonal development program will combine Destination Dreaming’s global citizenship and interconnectedness education with the development of an individual toolbox for mental wellbeing, mindfulness, managing stress and embracing individuality.

Another exciting chapter in what has been an amazing 2012! If you would like discuss the local program under development, please email Kate via kate@destinationdreaming.org.au

Sacred Heart College Students Return from Timor Leste with Eyes Wide Open

The first group of Sacred Heart College (Hobart) students and staff has just returned from Timor Leste on a Destination Dreaming Community Partnership Program.

The aim of the School’s first visit to Timor was to set the foundation for an ongoing, intercultural relationship with a Junior School in the rural township of Maliana- and there were certainly some incredible friendships made. Primary School Principal Sue Walker said “to watch the youth of two completely different cultures come together to share their stories, dreams and lives for even a short time will never be forgotten. We faced challenges and were taken well and truly out of our comfort zone, but the positive and powerful personal growth that has occurred for each and every participant from both Sacred Heart College and Maliana Junior School is distinct.”

After arriving in Timor Leste’s capital of Dili, the group travelled all day through rugged but beautiful countryside to the regional district of Maliana. An essential part of the program included living in the everyday circumstances as that experienced by the local students, including drawing their water from the well each day, playing in the river and picking food from the local vegetable garden.

During this time, the Sacred Heart College students saw the construction of an outdoor study shelter they had funded for the new block at the Encouragement House. They were also excited to deliver computers, printers and education resources, including a fantastic set of microscopes to the local science teachers. Students also worked in teams to assist English tutoring at the Junior High School, learned some of the local language from their Timorese peers and about the Timorese history and culture. But even more so than experiencing the diverse culture and environment, the students learned just how much they have in common with the local teenagers their own age.
Read more

From New Zealand to Remote Fiji for Father and Son

Destination Dreaming’s Program Director Clint Miller, led our first Family Tree Program for 2012 in April.

Clint was joined in the Fijian highlands by father and son, Tony and Matt, from Rotorua in New Zealand. Over 7 days, Tony and Matt immersed themselves in the local village life; learning about the family-oriented community, participating in a traditional welcoming ceremony, rafting on a bamboo bili bili, trekking and spending time in the local kindergarten.

Listen to Tony and Matt talking about their experience in the clip below:

At the conclusion of the program, 51 year old Tony said ‘Clint is a great leader and facilitator. The Fijian village experience was an opportunity of a lifetime and the people are so friendly. I highly recommend Destination Dreaming to any father wanting to connect with their children. 19 year old Matt said that ‘it was an enlightening experience and I can’t wait to come back.’
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Video Promo in Preparation for Scotch Oakburn’s Second Visit to Timor Leste

Scotch Oakburn College student Brianna Bartley has created a YouTube clip that captures her experiences in Timor Leste in 2011. Brianna was a member of the first group of students and staff from Scotch Oakburn College to visit their new partner school in Timor Leste, on a Community Partnership program run by Destination Dreaming.

Check our her clip that is being used to promote and gather support in Launceston for their partner school in Timor, in preparation for the next Scotch Oakburn service program in September this year.