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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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

Destination Dreaming Joins with CreatiVITI Fiji and WWF Partner Scuba Bula

Are you looking for an amazing new learning opportunity in 2012? We are excited to be partnering with two fantastic Fijian organisations in the coming year. Schools and community groups will now have the opportunity to support traditional art and craft education, or combine reef conservation with a diving experience.

In 2012, we are looking forward to linking local schools with rural Fijian schools, to deliver a series of art workshops. As art is not currently part of the Fijian curriculum, this is an extremely valuable project that will see Australian students engaging with their Fijian peers, to create art pieces reflecting their respective cultures and stories. We will be facilitating this program beside CreatiVITI Fiji, a Fijian, not-for-profit arts and craft organisation that promotes traditional Fijian art. Read more

Laying the Foundation for Nasivikoso Primary School, Fiji

This Monday the 11th of November was a very special day for Destination Dreaming and Nasivikoso, the Fijian village we have been working with since 2004. We were honoured to be a part of the foundation laying ceremony for the Nasivikoso Primary School. We joined with the village to bless the school site and pour the first load of concrete. An amazing moment, that wouldn’t have been possible without the wonderful support of our past participants and supporters in Australia. Vinaka vaka levu. Read more

Scotch Oakburn College

During the September school holidays, nine students and two teachers from Scotch Oakburn College in Launceston ventured into the highlands of Timor-Leste on their inaugural International Community Partnership Program. The group stayed with the Encouragement House in Maliana and delivered an English tutoring program for one of the local high schools. Staying at the Encouragement House, a boarding house for rural students, was a highlight.

Kelsey said ‘my favourite part of the trip was spending time at the Encouragement House… and the river trips in the truck.’ Andrew described his experience as ‘…the most fulfilling and enjoyable ten days of my life…it is very rare that you can reflect on a week of your life knowing you wouldn’t change a moment of it.’

The program was a huge success, and thanks go to the incredible people at the Encouragement House, Robert Dickson, Maliana One High School, Tania Deguara and Andrew French and the nine champion students of Scotch Oakburn College.

Brianna Bartley has created a video of the group’s experience, which is being used to generate awareness and support in the Launceston community about the program in preparation for the College’s next visit in September 2012.

Photos from the program are now available via this link on Facebook.

[box_half]Chris and kids from the Encouragement House playing soccer[/box_half][box_half class=”last”]Scotch Oakburns Tania with Maliana Ones Principal[/box_half]

Tassie Students Learn From Community Life in Timor Leste

During the September school holidays, nine students and two teachers from Scotch Oakburn College in Launceston ventured into the highlands of Timor-Leste on their inaugural Community Partnership Program. The group stayed with the Encouragement House in Maliana and delivered an English tutoring program for one of the local high schools. Staying at the Encouragement House, a boarding house for rural students, was a highlight. Kelsey said ‘my favourite part of the trip was spending time at the Encouragement House… and the river trips in the truck.’ Andrew described his experience as ‘…the most fulfilling and enjoyable ten days of my life…it is very rare that you can reflect on a week of your life knowing you wouldn’t change a moment of it.’

The program was a huge success, and thanks go to the incredible people at the Encouragement House, Robert Dickson, Maliana One High School, Tania Deguara and Andrew French and the nine champion students of Scotch Oakburn College.