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Cultural immersion – embracing difference

Photo: Designed to allow our students to walk with, understand and learn from our First Nation’s peoples..


November 14, 2018

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Penrhos College

Our everyday lives are often spent in familiar environments, in which we don’t typically tend to think about the broader traditions and culture which surround us.

Cultural immersion can lend a deep and valuable new perspective; through this source of rich personal development, we can learn to embrace contemporary practices entrenched in ancient knowledge and traditions, and appreciate cultural differences as we experience new environments.

In today’s fast-paced world, those opportunities to take a little time out to recognise our cultural heritage, to give back to our communities and to celebrate our nation’s diversity are both precious and rare.

Penrhos strives to provide ongoing opportunities for our students and staff to develop meaningful connections and deep understanding of the broad contexts of our nation’s first peoples and their rich culture. We are delighted to offer 12 of our current Year 8 and 9 students the chance to participate in a life-changing expedition in 2019.

Students are invited to travel to a remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory where they will be living, learning with and from, the local children and Aboriginal elders about our nation’s rich heritage. This is part of a cultural engagement initiative to be launched at Penrhos in conjunction with 2 Way Learning Director Craig Davies, former triple Australian Olympian, and educational leader.

In addition to our time immersed in the Barunga Community, located five hours south of Darwin, the girls will be spending time with students from both Clyde Fenton Primary School and Katherine High School. The group can expect to experience every aspect of Aboriginal life, with their peers who live in remote communities, from sharing meals to learning to speak in a different language.

Katherine High School is home to Stars Foundation – a program that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and creates a positive school environment with learning experiences that best promote opportunities for engagement with tangible outcomes. The Stars Foundation offers a range of extracurricular initiatives, including sport and physical activities, art, music and dance to build girls’ confidence and provide opportunities for self-reflection and personal growth.

There are many important life-skills Penrhos students are not exposed to in the classroom. The synergy that exists between the organisation 2 Way Learning and Penrhos College’s aim to develop the whole person paradigm (learning to be strong in mind, heart, body and spirit), focuses on experiences to foster authentic and respectful relationships. This expedition is designed to allow our students to walk with, understand and learn from our First Nation’s peoples.

Having spent some time in these communities preparing for this student opportunity, I cannot recommend this growth experience highly enough, and hope it will be a rich reciprocal experience for both the Aboriginal community we will visit and our girls fortunate enough to be selected.

“The more we share our cultures with one another, the more we understand the significance they place in our own lives… by celebrating cultural traditions that are important to locals and Indigenous cultures, and educating more people about these traditions, these cultures are more likely to be shared with future generations”– Discover Corps.

Student applications for our first Northern Territory Indigenous Immersion Expedition, which will run from 29 May to 5 June 2019 (around the Term 2 mid-term break), close on Friday 16 November.

Paul McCarthy, Dean of Co-Curricular.