School students gain insight into Asian, African cultures

Published 04 April 2012

Students at Bingara Central School were introduced to the cultures of India, China, South-east Asia and East Africa when four international students from the University of New England visited the school last Friday.

It was the inaugural school visit for members of Armidale’s “Students in Harmony” group, which promotes inter-cultural awareness by involving students from around the world in community events.

“It was a real learning experience for the four of us as well as for the school students,” said Indian-born Prashanth Van Houten. “The students showed a lot of interest, the feedback from the school was very positive, and we ourselves developed our presentation techniques and ideas for future events.”

The other three UNE students involved in the “Introducing Cultures” day were Khadijah Saad from Malaysia, Sam Yunxian Li from China, and Sewa Emojong, who has a Kenyan background. They travelled to Bingara on Thursday 29 March, spent the night in the school principal’s residence, and worked with groups of students for the whole of the next day.

“They were particularly interested in our national cuisines and festivals,” Prashanth said, “and in locating our various countries on the map. “And they enjoyed looking at – and talking about – pictures of our native animals.

“They were also very curious about schooling, and were interested in the school environments – comparing those with their own well-appointed learning environment – and school hours.”

The Students in Harmony team worked with secondary students in the morning and primary students – including visitors from Gravesend Public School – for the rest of the day. “As well as arousing their interest in other countries and cultures, we may also have given them a bit of motivation to think about further education,” Prashanth said.

He said the group had been hospitably welcomed by the school principal, Mark Vale, by the school staff, and by the local community. “We’re considering the possibility of similar events at other schools in the area,” he said. “We’d like to work on a ‘cooking & cultural’ show, involving several of us cooking national dishes while displaying multi-media presentations of our countries and cultures.”

THE PHOTOGRAPH, displayed above, of Sewa Emojong and Sam Yunxian Li, expands to include Prashanth Van Houten and Khadijah Saad.