On 3 September 2007 more than 300 delegates and presenters participated in the annual Cultural Exchange Student Partnerships Conference at Australian Technology Park, Redfern.
The conference provided schools with an opportunity to showcase the cultural exchange programs they have been running this year. Seventeen schools presented workshops highlighting the benefits of cultural exchange programs. Sylvania Heights and Merrylands Public Schools presented a workshop entitled Getting Started – How to have a successful first cultural exchange, which explained the dos and don’ts of beginning an exchange program. Birrong Girls and Engadine High Schools described how cultural exchange programs can be used to promote youth leadership and explore inter-cultural harmony in our communities. Evans and Beverly Hills Intensive English Centres outlined the programs they have been running with regional schools Lismore, Coonabarabran and Wollumbin High Schools.
Participants were entertained by students from Beverly Hills Girls High School and Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre who performed a song, appropriately titled “Unity”, written especially for the conference by Suhandi Kosasih, a teacher’s aide from Beverly Hills, with lyrics arranged by Ms Emma Zampieri, music teacher from Beverly Hills Girls High.
Campbelltown Performing Arts High School’s circus troupe wowed the participants at lunchtime with a breathtaking aerial performance, a stilt-walking and a juggling display that highlighted their diverse range skills.
Keynote speaker, Tahir Bilgic, better known as “Habib” from Fat Pizza encouraged the participants to stand up against racism and embrace cultural diversity. He reminded the audience that success in life came down to “attitude” and that a positive attitude helps overcome obstacles and gives a clear perspective. Tahir regaled the audience with insights into the film and television industry, leaving all in no doubt that he is truly “Lord of the Kebabs”.
The inaugural Student Partnerships Conference was held on Friday 24 March 2006 at the Australian Technology Park, Redfern. Over 300 students and teachers from schools across NSW attended the conference and Year 10 and 11 student leaders from the NSW Student Representative Council facilitated the day.
The conference was officially opened by the Premier of NSW, the Hon. Morris Iemma MP, who also launched the NSW Government’s Respect and Responsibility in Schools policy on the day. An inspirational keynote address was delivered by Mr Khoa Do, film maker and Young Australian of the Year 2005.
Major highlights of the day included a presentation led by teachers and students on a joint harmony project involving eight government and non-government primary schools and a panel discussion facilitated by acclaimed children’s author Nadia Wheatley on the cultural experiences of students and teachers. Performances by the Wiley Park Public School choir and students from Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre inspired the audience.
Twenty workshops featuring successful school cultural exchange programs were offered and were presented by teachers, students and community members. Other school projects and educational programs were highlighted in conference displays.
The conference was overwhelmingly well received by all who attended with positive feedback provided on all aspects of the day’s program.