26 Year 10 students from Southern Hills Christian College have returned from a week-long service trip to the Kurrawang Indigenous Community, outside Kalgoorlie in WA’s Goldfields-Esperance region.
Over four days, students visited the Kurrawang CAPS (Christian Aboriginal Parent-directed School), a primary school in the community, which currently enrolls 26 students from Kurrawang, Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie.
“This trip has enabled our students to expand their knowledge of traditional Aboriginal culture, engage with students in the community, and serve them in practical ways,” said Mr. Morris Prinsloo, trip coordinator and Teacher at Southern Hills Christian College.
“Above all, it was amazing to see our students instantly connect with the students at the Kurrawang CAPS school, and build relationships so quickly,” he said.
The first full day in Kalgoorlie started by watching the sun rise as a group, and reflecting on the meaning of the trip.
“We woke up before sunrise and drove out to the hill, at O’connor reserve, and looked upon the sunrise,” said Southern Hills student, Josh.
“We spoke about what the camp means and how it would help us.
“It’s about giving back to the community, helping out, and having a good look out on life, which helps to make you a better person.
[The trip] is a good opportunity to get some new experiences, get out of my comfort zone, meet new people, get to know the kids at Kurrawang, and have some fun,” he said.
Students worked in three service teams which rotated throughout the week.
“We split up in to three different groups; one group on teaching work, one group on construction, and another clearing the library and faculty rooms,” said Daniel, a Year 10 student at Southern Hills Christian College.
“In the construction group, we’ve been making a chicken coop, helping the kids learn about chickens, teaching them about selling stuff, fundraising, which has all been fun,” he said.
The completed chicken coop will contribute to the Kurrawang students’ thrive program, as a part of their self-catered kitchen which will be used to teach the students practical business skills.
Dr. Graham Jacobs, the State member for Eyre which includes the Kurrawang community, congratulated the Southern Hills students on the construction of the chicken coop and described how the program would benefit the school’s students.
“One of the strongest things is engagement and getting the kids to buy in,” said Dr. Jacobs.
“Unless you get someone to buy in, and engage, they’re not going to learn.
“Doing something that is practical – it might not be calculus – but it does get kids engaged in a process, and that involves engaging in teamwork and providing a structure where they can follow through to the end result.
“We do this in other small communities in the Northern Goldfields, and I think the most positive thing about it is that once you have kids engaged, you can move on to other things as well,” he said.
When engaging in teaching work, Southern Hills students took part in a range of learning activities and connected with the local students while coaching them in their work.
The final station involved sorting resources in the library and faculty rooms to support the staff of the school, who have full teaching and administrative loads.
“We cleaned out the library of the school, organizing the books and games in to different sections – maths, science English, so the teachers have the right resources,” said Southern Hills student Joshua.
A key take away from the trip for the Southern Hills students was how welcoming the local students were.
“There’s a whole heap of new experiences we’ve had since we have come here, and it’s been great to get to know the kids,” said Southern Hills student Shona.
“The kids have opened up to us and we’ve made the most of that opportunity. They’re so different from the kids in Perth,” Shona said.
“They’re just so energetic,” said Southern Hills student Nikisha.
“They open up so quickly. If you’re confident and welcoming, the kids latch on to you and want to be around you.”
The students were awarded a PALS (Partnership, Acceptance, Learning, Sharing) Grant from the WA State Government for expenses towards the trip, which encourages Western Australian school students to develop projects that promote reconciliation in the community.
“We are so happy that the WA government is so supportive of what we are try to do,” said Mr. Prinsloo.