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Kimberley 2Way Exchange

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CALS Cultural Exchange Trip


Clontarf Academy Life Skills (CALS) students, Ben Ward, William (Peanut) Simon, Kinkaid Gordon, Karl Gordon, and Lorenzo Gordon were led by two CALS Staff, Ephrem Kennedy and Peter Barnett on a wonderful 11 day, 2 Way cultural exchange trip to Melbourne in late August, early Sep 2010. The group was very kindly hosted by two schools in Melbourne, Loyola College in Watsonia and The Peninsula School in Mt Eliza.

Clontarf Academy Life Skills (CALS) students, Ben Ward, William (Peanut) Simon, Kinkaid Gordon, Karl Gordon, and Lorenzo Gordon were led by two CALS Staff, Ephrem Kennedy and Peter Barnett on a wonderful 11 day, 2 Way cultural exchange trip to Melbourne in late August, early Sep 2010. The group was very kindly hosted by two schools in Melbourne, Loyola College in Watsonia and The Peninsula School in Mt Eliza.

At the end of the game one of the Loyola staff arranged a visit the Collingwood rooms. We passed through, what seemed like a secret entrance, walked down into the bowels of the MCG and past the Hawthorn players' race, just as they were coming off the ground. As we did Carl Peterson from Hawthorn recognised his friend Ephrem Kennedy, our CALS class AIEO, and gave him a big wave and shout. This impressed the boys a great deal.

We proceeded to the Collingwood rooms only to find a lockout after their shock defeat by Hawthorn. Not to be defeated ourselves we quickly headed back toward the Hawthorn rooms where Carl Peterson arranged to get us into the winner’s rooms.

What a great thrill this was for all the boys meeting …. and getting photos with many of the Hawthorn team such as Carl, Cyril Rioli and finally Buddy Franklin.

What a fantastic first day we had had already but to top it off Ric Roberts, our Loyola College host, had arranged for us to go to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Brunswick St, Carlton. This was the first restaurant of this kind the boys had ever been to - and they conducted themselves superbly. What a wonderful way to cap off a superb day in Melbourne!! 

We awoke the next morning from a deep sleep in our wonderful accommodation at Loyola College’s guest house to the start of the second day of adventures. Accompanied by six wonderful Loyola College Year 10 students, and Ric Roberts and his daughter, we visited Federation Square by train and then on to the Ian Potter Art Gallery. The boys were very impressed to find art work on display by artists they knew from the Kimberley. Next it was off by bike along the Yarra River to Docklands for a lunch of fish and chips.

Later in the afternoon the group moved on to Birrarung Marr before a tram ride to Melbourne’s Historic Exhibition Building and then to Imax Movie theatre to see Hubble in 3D. Not exactly the boys' favourite action movie of all time. Next it was off to Lygon St for yet another fantastic Italian meal.

We were hosted by Loyola Colleges School Community for day 3 of the tour. The Principal gave the boys a great tour of the “Castle”, as the boys had dubbed the huge Monastic building which now forms the central hub of the school complex.

This was followed by a Year 9 assembly at which Ephrem Kennedy addressed the Loyola students and staff - inspiring them all by sharing some excellent stories about Miriuwung country and culture. This included a short video depicting the boys performing traditional dances as well as a series of interviews with some of the Miriuwung Elders from Kununurra. All of this was very well 

received by the Loyola students and staff and provided a great catalyst for some excellent inter-cultural discussion between our boys and the Year 9 students at Loyola. It was then off for an early lunch followed by a great football match at lunch time with our 5 boys and the Loyola Year 9 team …. and of course Ephrem who can never go past a good football match.It was hard to leave as we had been welcomed and hosted beautifully by the Loyola School community and our 5 boys had made some great connections with the students. But depart we did and it was off to The Peninsula School - about an hour's drive away to Mt Eliza. Arriving at The Peninsula School we were again welcomed with wonderful hospitality by Mark Cook, the boarding master, as well as all the other very friendly staff at Jaffray House, the boys boarding school. It wasn't long before the boys had relaxed into the new environment and were trying their hand at table tennis with some very skilled players from the international boarding house.

Over the next 7 very rich days our boys were involved in a huge variety of activities and experiences with The Peninsula students and school community. As Mr Mark Cook (the Jaffray House boarding master) put it:

“The boys stayed at Jaffray House and clicked immediately with the international students. A sense of comfort and understanding about coming from faraway places seemed to form common ground. The objective of this short visit was to provide an 

overall snapshot of Life at the Peninsula School and to enlighten our own community about the diversity of lifestyles of our indigenous students. Our hope is to take a small group of the Peninsula students to the Kimberley in 2011 to visit our new friends and experience the diversity of life and opportunity in the far north west of Australia. “

 Whilst at Peninsula our boys were involved in a variety of classes such as Art, Drama and Music lessons. In particularly our boys enjoyed the large variety of sporting and PE lessons they participated in and helped lead, such as basketball and indoor

games with the primary and secondary students.  

Ephrem again led a very inspiring lesson on Miriuwung country and culture with the Peninsula students and staff, facilitating yet again a wonderful inter-cultural discussion. Another highlight for the boys was seeing snow for the first time during a trip to Lake Mountain. The excursion included toboggan races and the inevitable snow ball fights with 

one of the girls groups that the boys met on the mountain.The trip to Point Nepean National Park with its underground tunnels and the gun emplacements was a huge hit with all the boys.Then it was of to the MCG again to see the first of the 2010 finals, another cliff hanger with St Kilda downing Geelong by just 4 points this time, much to Ephrem’s disappointment.

The boys ended up seeing both grand final teams play in two separate games both decided by less than a goal, an extraordinary first experience of AFL football at the mighty MCG. Saturday saw us back to the Vic Market for a final chance at some bargain shopping then an invitation to a private dinner party put on from the family of “V” - one of the “Lovely Loyola girls” the boys met earlier in the trip . Everyone enjoyed a cross cultural night of excellent Sri Lankan food and hospitality, a night to be savoured, a rich 

memory for all of us. Sunday was a visit to Mr Barnett’s sister’s place for a farewell Barnett family BBQ and of course to watch the Carlton vs Sydney final, producing a result, now best forgotten. Monday was an early start for all concerned, with Mr Cook delivering the crew at Southern Cross station to catch the Sky Bus to Melbourne Airport for the return trip to Kununurra via Darwin.

What an extraordinary journey at many levels this trip was for the boys. It provided an eye opening opportunity for these five Kimberley Aboriginal boys to experience their own cultural heritage being appreciated and affirmed by others from vastly different cultural backgrounds. The trip also provided an equally valuable opportunity for the boys to have their own horizons expanded and to see the possibilities that exist beyond their current life situation.

One of the extraordinary outcomes from this cultural exchange has been that Karl Gordon has been offered a specialist scholarship at The Peninsula School for 2011. This opportunity has come about because of Karl’s persistent effort throughout 2010 to improve his literacy levels, combined with the wonderful generosity of Paul and Judy Williams the founders of WEST (Woomera Educational Scholarship Trust). A scholarship has been provided to Karl in conjunction with The Peninsula School to enable him to gain both further specialist instruction in literacy and a work readiness training program. This is a very generous and much appreciated opportunity for Karl and an inspiration to others in the CALS class.

Much thanks must go to Mr Ric Roberts and all the other very welcoming staff and students from Loyola College for the wonderful generosity in hosting our group as well as to Mr Mark Cook and The Peninsula staff and students. Thanks also to Ephrem Kennedy for his invaluable leadership on the 

trip as well at to John Duthie the director of the East Kimberley Clontarf Academy and Mr Matt Wren the Principal of KDHS for their support of this initiative.

Sincere thanks to Paul and Judy Williams for their support, vision and commitment to indigenous education opportunities for making the trip possible. A special thanks goes to all the students and staff at Loyola School and The Peninsula School who contributed to a thoroughly memorable experience for the Kununurra students and staff.

Regards and thanks to all who supported this great Journey

Peter Barnett, CALS program coordinator and class teacher. Now Principal Consultant with Kimberley 2Way exchange 

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