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Cultural Immersion Programs for School Students Takes Melbourne Boys to Central Australia


Victoria, Australia February, 2013 – Late last year during the school holiday break, 20 male year 10 students from Melbourne High School connected with the indigenous communities of Jabiru and Gunbalanya in the Northern Territory as part of a cultural immersion program for school students. This was the second consecutive visit to the West Arnhem communities for Melbourne High School, and both were organised, planned and facilitated by not-for-profit global service learning organisation Destination Dreaming.
Most of the Melbourne boys had never been to the Top End of Australia or met an Aboriginal person before. Reflecting on his expectations before the program, 16-year old Sam said, “Before the program my perception of Aboriginal people was that they all lived in the wild and still speared their food. But since having experienced this program, I now have a small insight in to how amazing and skilled Aboriginal people have to be to live in two vastly different cultures and try to respect both.”
The group of Melbourne High School boys in itself was a mix of ethnic backgrounds including: Chinese, Malay, Vietnamese, Indian, Sri Lankan, European and Northern American, which made the global service learning program for school students even more special as the Destination Dreaming team were literally bringing the world to rural Australia.
After spending the first couple of days getting used to the warm weather and building a connection to the land through visits to Jim Jim,  Twin Falls and Ubirr Rock, the Melbourne students were invited into the classrooms of the Jabiru campus to work with their peers in Maths, Science, sports, music and culture.
Over the week, the Melbourne High boys grew very close with the local Aboriginal boys and quickly realised just how much they all had in common. One 15-year old Chinese-Australian student Roy, said “I just met this guy Junior [a local Aboriginal student] and when we went to shake hands we automatically did the same hand shake, then we talked and realised we love the same music and DJ, we both love dancing, the same football team…how can a Chinese kid from Melbourne have so much in common with an Aboriginal kid from Jabiru? This is amazing.”
A highlight for the Melbourne students was visiting Gunbalanya and releasing a 6-foot crocodile into Cahill’s Crossing, learning all about bush tucker, culture and the local language during Culture First week. The boys tasted turtle, magpie geese and buffalo, as well as learning about spear throwing and traditional cooking methods.
This is just one of many intercultural learning programs for school students offered by Destination Dreaming. Program Director Kate Miller says, “We create a partnership based on two-way learning and mutual respect between the client school and a community in rural Australia or internationally. A group of students from the client school visit their partner community, where they stay with the community, are immersed in the local culture, learn about the history of the community and contribute to a community-driven service project that their school has fundraised for in preparation for their visit.”
These cultural immersion programs for school students build on the students’ global understanding, self awareness and sense of responsibility for social justice and sustainability. To find out more about the intercultural learning programs for school students, visit


 Intercultural learning
 Cultural immersion
 Global service learning
 Programs for students
 Programs for schools

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