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