Timor-Leste Immersion 'transformative' for students and staff

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Timor-Leste Immersion 'transformative' for students and staff

MacKillop College principal Eamonn Pollard has described the school’s Timor-Leste Immersion program as ‘transformative’ and ‘life-changing’.

In a newsletter message following the July 3-12 Immersion, Mr Pollard described the impact of the trip on those involved.

“I would suggest that the experience draws out from students and staff some of their inner beliefs and values, some of which may have been a little dormant or even hidden,” he said.

This year’s Immersion took senior students and staff to several locations within Timor-Leste, including the capital Dili.

Students reported what they witnessed:

“When we arrived at Laleia the children swarmed around us. They radiated happiness, giving us high-fives, introducing themselves and begging us to join them in their activities. We learnt a great deal more of the Timorese culture. We learnt just how desperate they are for help, how they live, and the effects of the Indonesian occupation,” Year 10 students Luke and Lili shared in a presentation about their experiences.

The students had opportunities to meet with their local high school counterparts and shared with the Timor-Leste students about their lives in Australia.

They described playing soccer against young children, teaching English and visiting a kindergarten.

The students also brought musical instruments to give to local teachers as part of the Mary MacKillop International Teacher Training Program, which the school raises funds for throughout the year.

Mr Pollard said that the school is proud of the Timor-Leste Immersions.

“Over the years I have seen students find their life direction from the immersions, frequently in the area of service, such as nursing or teaching. I have also seen students become happier. They talk of having a greater appreciation of all that they have in their lives in Australia and how the East Timorese are so happy, even though they have less,” he said.