In August this year, seven Year 11 students and three staff members from Emmanuel Catholic College (ECC) were fortunate enough to take part in a cultural immersion tour, visiting Ngalangangpum School Warmun, a remote Aboriginal community in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Students and staff spent the week with students of the Ngalangangpum School, assisting in the classrooms, school café, and even facilitating a mini sports carnival for the children in celebration of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.
As one of the highlights of the tour, students and staff were privileged to learn more about Kija culture and lifestyle, participating in a smoking ceremony and water blessing to experience the sacred connection between the Kija people and their land.
The ECC students particularly enjoyed spending time with the Ngalangangpum students and learning more about how they spend their time outside of school hours.
Student Olivia Faliti commented, “Before Immersion I didn’t realise how different the culture was up in Warmun. Everyone has been so loving and welcoming of us. Learning about Warmun and the Kija people has been a big eye opener and an absolutely amazing experience. I am extremely grateful of the community of Warmun for welcoming us with open arms. All of us have made friendships and memories that we will cherish forever.”
Students saw first-hand the challenges that the school community faces each day, with many of the school’s students coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Schools provide a significant amount of support to students beyond what ECC students require here at school in Perth, and they were amazed at the Ngalangangpum School staff’s passion and dedication to improving the lives of students at the school.
Following a remarkable experience during the week at Ngalangangpum School, students left with a greater understanding of the life and culture in the Kimberley.
Student Nicholas Bontempo said “The authentic cross cultural immersion has given me a deeper understanding of the spiritual and cultural aspects of Indigenous Australians.”
Emmanuel Catholic College offer this amazing cross-cultural experience to Year 11 students every year, building a stronger bond of support with their sister school in the Kimberley.