In May 2007, 15 students from Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre (IEC) travelled to Coonabarabran to meet local students and the local Gamilaraay elders. This is one of many exchanges involving the schools.
Students from Beverly Hills IEC, which is located in Sydney’s southwest, are all new arrivals in Australia. Many have come as refugees and look forward to a new start in a new country. Coonabarabran High School has a student population of about 400 students. Approximately 60 of these students identify as Aboriginal and the local Indigenous language is taught in the school. The cultural exchange between the two schools has produced many interesting outcomes.
The exchange began with Coonabarabran High School’s Aboriginal dance group welcoming Beverly Hills visitors with a traditional dance. Beverly Hills IEC students reciprocated with a tribal drum performance.
Beverly Hills IEC students then shared stories of their personal journeys to Australia with the Year 12 English class at Coonabarabran High. A Sierra Leone Teachers Aide travelling with Beverly Hills IEC students reduced many students to tears as he spoke of the trouble in his country of origin and what a privilege it was to find a safe haven in Australia.
The leader of the local Gamilaraay Land Council took students through the Warrumbungles National Park pointing out sites of Aboriginal significance. He shared his knowledge of bush tucker with the students and gave them tips on what to eat and not eat. The female elders spent time teaching the students how to make damper and billy tea.