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