Human Rights award for MacKillop Timor-Leste immersions

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Home > Media > News > Human Rights award for MacKillop Timor-Leste immersions
Human Rights award for MacKillop Timor-Leste immersions

MacKillop Catholic College has been recognized for its outstanding annual Timor-Leste Immersion program by being awarded Tasmania’s Human Rights Week ‘A Fairer World’ School Award.

Principal Eamonn Pollard described the award as a ‘big compliment’ but said that the students and staff were really the ones to gain from the immersion experience.

This year the college sent 15 students and four staff members for a ten-day immersion, travelling to schools and kindergartens, meeting with young people and witnessing the needs of the local communities.

According to Mr Pollard, there is always more demand than available places.

“We have a bit of a line-up of people who’d like to go. It’s transformative for the students, I think it’s equally transformative for the staff,” Mr Pollard said.

“‘Life changing’ is a big claim but I think it is close to life changing where they come back with a different perspective on things,” he said.

“There’s an outer journey to Timor-Leste, but there’s also an inner journey where faith values are awakened within. Part of our formation program is to put language to that and help them to grow in faith as well.”

The program involves comprehensive preparation for participants prior to the trip.

“The immersion experience is about 11 months in duration in terms of the formation that we do. It’s not that we just drop them in the human zoo … it’s a lot of serious formation about what Timor-Leste is like.”

MacKillop Catholic College’s association with Timor-Leste extends well beyond the immersion trip: the school has social justice themes running through their curriculum, and a culture of fundraising for certain projects. Each year the college raises around $15,000 for Mary MacKillop International to go towards a college for training teachers.
“The logic is that education is the thing that is going to help Timor-Leste rise up,” he said.