Engadine High School in the Sutherland Shire and Birrong Girls High School in south western Sydney have been exchanging since 2005.
When Birrong Girls and Engadine High Schools first began their cultural exchange program, teachers used games of soccer, drama activities and other ice breaker activities to initiate trust between the students and provide ways for them to connect. Since then, students have hosted their own school events and have strengthened friendships through the use of email, SMS and mobile phones.
The cultural exchange program has been a focus for many learning experiences undertaken by students. As a part of the ongoing program, teachers at both schools have engaged speakers and events to provide the widest possible learning opportunities for their students.
Examples of cultural exchange activities involving students at the schools have included:
- The National Parks Education Centre provided lunch and students discussed a range of environmental issues with an education officer and Aboriginal elder. A representative from the Bush Fire Brigade also spoke to students and a number of leadership and team building activities were conducted.
- A Cronulla Beach Surf Life Saving program. Year 7 students enjoyed a day with the Cronulla Life Guards and participated in board skills, beach games and surf awareness.
- A Day in NSW Parliament House. SRC members took a list of ten questions to ask a politician and toured Parliament House. Politicians selected five of the ten questions to respond to in parliament while students looked on. Students were given five minutes in Question time to discuss some of the issues raised. They broke into groups and discussed the politicians’ responses and the parliamentary proceedings.
- A visit by Boori (Monty) Prior [PDF] to Engadine High School. Boori spoke to students about his personal experiences and challenges as an Aboriginal Australian. Orange High School students also participated in this event.
- The Growing Peace Forum, organised by the Affinity Intercultural Foundation. Engadine High School students assisted in the forum by performing musical items and distributing food.
- A FAIR Racial Tolerance Leadership course. Year 11 boys from Engadine High School learnt about alternatives to violence and anger management. As a follow up to this event, Year 7 and 8 students were involved in a youth weekend organised by FAIR.
- Enough is enough visit. Speakers from Enough is enough addressed Engadine High School students. In response, students raised awareness of refugee issues and money for local refugee students through various events including Harmony Day and World Refugee Day.