A community experience

The power of community was on full display as four students from Purnululu Aboriginal Independent Community School (PAICS) enjoyed activities on both the Carramar and Duncraig campuses, making new friends and seeing the sights of Perth.

The visit was part of St Stephen’s School’s partnership with PAICS where the schools will learn from each other, sharing understanding and resources, while opening new experiences and opportunities for all.

The four girls, aged between 13 and 15, travelled to Perth with one of their teachers Mariah Dodds and June Gallagher, a member of the Gija community, all nervous and excited to take in the new experiences.

They stayed at the School’s Carramar caretaker’s house and were welcomed with open arms on their first day, meeting up with assigned student buddies, who have applied to go on the School’s Lou Morrison Kimberley Service Learning Tour next year.

“They quickly made friends with a few students in particular, who are looking forward to meeting up again in the PAICS community next year if they are selected for the Tour group,” St Stephen’s School Service Learning Tour Coordinator Rolene Nel said.

“That is the beauty of this partnership, not only do the girls get to learn from the new environment and people, but we learned as much, if not more, from them and they have created lasting friendships that will continue throughout the program.”

“When the girls arrived, they were shy and wide-eyed but by the end of the 10-day trip, they settled in beautifully and were cracking jokes and happily venturing off with their friends.”

Some of the onsite school activities included rock-climbing and abseiling in the School’s Carramar Gym, cooking, playing basketball, woodwork, pottery, sewing, art, mechanics and science experiments.

Ms Dodds said the girls’ favourite activities were cooking, pottery and basketball.

She said the size of the school and number of students was one of the biggest differences to their community, but the girls found everyone nice and helpful.

“We had lots of fun and tried lots of different things,” the girls said.

“It’s good because we got to learn different things and experience new things,” one added.

The girls spent time at both the Carramar and Duncraig campuses and also ventured out to Perth Zoo and the WA Museum Boola Bardip accompanied by St Stephen’sSchool students and staff.

St Stephen’s School Principal Donella Beare said watching the girls and students get to know each other and guide each other was wonderful.

“Our students were incredible buddies for the girls, they really took it upon themselves to make them feel comfortable in what would have been a big culture shock at first but in saying that, seeing how the girls guided our students in their own knowledge and culture was even more impressive,” Mrs Beare said.

“I know all involved were touched by the experience and really connected with the knowledge of different ways of life and how far we have to go in our understanding of Australia.

“I’m really proud we are building this relationship with PAICS as I think it will really benefit the students, families, staff and the wider community and we can’t wait to welcome the next group of visitors and venture up to their community to spend some time connecting on country.”

Tour St Stephen's School