A Wonderful Change of Scenery… and Phone Number

The Destination Dreaming office has moved, which also means a new office number. Please note that as of Friday 7th June, the office can no longer be reached on (03) 5255 5148.

Thanks to construction boom in Ocean Grove, the phone technician will be in to connect our new number in the first week of July. Until then, please contact our Program Director, Clint Miller on 0402 867 202. Alternately, our 24 hour emergency contact number during the winter holiday programs is 0417 123 799.

St Catherine’s School Students Spend Easter Connecting Through Netball in Fiji

While most of their classmates were celebrating Easter this year with their families, 14 girls from St Catherine’s School in Toorak gave all that up for a very different Easter experience. Destination Dreaming was proud to support the girls as they ventured deep into the remote Fijian Highlands on a 10-day immersion experience. The purpose of the inaugural program was to engage with a rural Fijian community and young people their own age, support the development of netball skills and participate in intercultural netball fixtures.

The students played three netball fixtures against three different communities throughout the program. The school capitalised on netball as a strong common bond between the Australian and Fijian girls to engage across cultures, build friendships, and extend the netball skills of their Fijian peers.

When most people think of Fiji, they picture exotic islands and 5-star resort holidays, but these young adventurers experienced something very different. 17-year-old student Sarah said “[t]his experience taught us that the most important things in life are family and friends and that the people who have the least give the most.”

Teacher in charge, Ms Andrews, said:

[t]his experience is critical for the development of these young women. They learnt that people can connect with each other regardless of the age, race, religion, socio-economical situation and given the right opportunities they will develop strong friendships and learn from each other.

It was wonderful to work with St Catherine’s School in providing this opportunity for a fantastic community of young women. A huge thank-you to the organising teachers, Ms Andrews and Ms Leonard, the parents of the students involved and Program Leader Tom Richardson.

Click here to view photos from the program on our Facebook page.

Sacred Heart College Girls’ Easter in Timor

Destination Dreaming is proud to have formed a partnership with Sacred Heart College in Geelong. This Easter, 29 Sacred Heart College students traded chocolate eggs for a taste of life from a very different viewpoint to what they’re accustomed.

The girls began their 10 day community initiative in Dili, visiting historical landmarks such as Chega museum and Santa Cruz Cemetery before travelling eastward to Baucau. They were made to feel right at home: singing, dancing and laughing with members of the local community. The Timorese and Australian girls ran activities for one other, sharing Australian culture in return for Timorese culture, and great friendships were made. The Geelong girls were hands-on in the preparations for Holy Week, which meant so much to the 98% Catholic Timorese population.

A highlight of the visit was the food, and even a green grass snake at a local restaurant couldn’t dampen the students’ enthusiasm. With Holy Week in full swing, the Sacred Heart girls spent most of their days living like local Timorese. They swam at the local pool every day, often providing much entertainment for the locals, and caught a bus to beautiful Baucau beach. On Good Friday, the students joined the procession to the cathedral where hundreds of Timorese gathered to attend mass.

The sense of community and family was not lost on the girls. The girls were lucky enough to be visited by Ms Margie Beck, an inspirational Australian ex-pat now living in Baucau and a regular visitor to Sacred Heart College in Geelong, as well as spending time with Ms Agatha, a local Timorese woman who has also spent some time at the College. Hearing about the challenges that the locals face every day left a strong impression on the Sacred Heart girls.

The group arrived safely back in Dili at the end of their journey and spent their final day visiting the Resistance museum, the Alola Foundation and the local market. Following lunch, the team had their program reflection session and shared their insights and what they’d each learned from the program.

Some of the feedback shared by the girls included:

Jess, 16 years old:

The most important thing I learnt was not to complain and take things for granted, to make the most of what we have.

Hannah, also 16:

I learnt that it’s the small things in life that are the most important, we saw the Timorese girls so happy with their family, friendships and community and they don’t have things like TV, computer or air conditioning.

Destination Dreaming would like to say a huge thank you to all the parents and Sacred Heart College community for supporting this student visit to Dili and Baucau. All the girls who attended had their eyes opened to another culture in a way that only first hand experience can achieve.

To see photos from the program, you can view the Photo Album on Facebook

Clonard College’s First Visit to Their Viqueque Friendship School

Destination Dreaming is thrilled to be working with Clonard College, who this April embarked upon their first visit to their Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools partner school. Within only four days, the Clonard College team could already be described as well travelled! After leaving Melbourne on Sunday, the team ventured to Darwin that evening, Dili on Monday, Baucau on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the team arrived safely in Viqueque.

The 10 day program featured many highlights, including meeting the Australian Ambassador, visiting the Alola Foundation head office, eating fresh fish on the beach, and of course meeting many amazing local people along the way.

The Clonard team spent a week in Viqueque, where they are partnered with Uaimori Primary School through the Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools program. Thursday was spent with their sister primary school, meeting the students and spending the day in the classrooms and playground. Even though it was school holidays, about 50 of the local students came to school to meet the group and play some games. There was much laughter while the young people from two different cultures connected through play. The Principal, Mr Bernardo, was delighted with the way the two schools connected and is very keen to continue the visits next year.

Friday was a special day, with the team joining the entire town marching in the Good Friday Easter Procession. There was a live re-enactment of the 14 Stations of the Cross and the crucifixion of Jesus, which the girls and staff watched with more than 3000 local people.

Easter weekend included the team preparing a traditional Timorese lunch that was shared with 20 students from the local primary school, a swim in a fresh waterhole and Sunday Mass. The group arrived safely back in Dili on Monday night and spent the day learning more about Timorese history and the local economy with visits to Dili museums and local businesses. Following lunch on the beach, the group had a formal program reflection session, sharing many amazing insights and learning experiences, including:

Teacher – Michael McCallum:

Our students arrived in Timor with a solid base of information on Timorese history and culture, but nothing could have prepared them for the real deal. The students were challenged everyday to walk with the locals, dealing with the heat, long bumpy road trips, new food, language, infrastructure and environment. Each day the students grew stronger as individuals and as a group and this was largely thank to Destination Dreaming and the way they connected our kids into the community… well done Destination Dreaming.

Year 11 student Emily:

I learnt that material things are not always the most important things and how beneficial it is to connect with different people and listen to them.

Year 11 student Hayley:

This trip has taught me a lot about culture, history and most importantly people. I learnt that the difference between Australian and Timorese cultures are that Australians take their freedom for granted.

Year 11 student Maddie:

Throughout this trip my main highlight was the Easter celebrations. It was great way to learn about culture and community.

A huge thank you to all the parents and Clonard College community for supporting this pilot student visit to Viqueque- an amazing learning experience for the girls who attended, and a wonderful foundation for future engagement with Uamori Primary School.

To see photos from the program, you can view the Photo Album on Facebook

Clint’s February Visit to Fiji in Preparation for Four Fantastic New Programs in 2013

Almost 10 months had passed since my last visit to Fiji. It was fantastic to be back, particularly in the highlands of Viti Levu- one of the best places in the world. I was extremely fortunate to be able to make this trip, in preparation for four Destination Dreaming programs running in Fiji in 2013.

This was also a fantastic opportunity to check in with the community projects Destination Dreaming has supported in recent years. We are thrilled that the Nasivikoso Village Primary School is finally completed and operating. This project is something that Destination Dreaming and its participants has been supporting since 2008, including raising over $16,000 for the construction of the school. It was an amazing feeling to walk up the hill and see the school looking so polished and perfect, and with the village so proud of this achievement.

Destination Dreaming has also been in discussion with the Methodist Church Humanitarian Department regarding installation of a water filter for the village. It was great to be in the village with representatives of the Department to plan the delivery of $6,000 of funds to install another SkyJuice filter for the benefit of the school.

The Fiji Islands, like many tropical destinations, have had a tough few years with floods, cyclones and other natural disasters. In December 2012, an extremely destructive tropical cyclone, TC Evan, damaged many villages in the western division of Fiji, including areas our partner communities are situated. We are really pleased to have four fantastic programs in Fiji this year, and are excited to bring some support and new partnerships to these amazing communities.

During my February visit, it was great to check in with these communities in planning for the 2013 programs. This is going to be a really exciting year for Destination Dreaming in Fiji and the great schools we’re working with, and we look forward to bringing continued updates of the programs and projects to you.

You can see some photos from the trip by clicking here