Celebrating a cultural diverse society: Photographic display
Merrylands East Public School, New South Wales
By John Goh, Principal
Merrylands East Public School is a culturally diverse community, comprising 414 students from over 35 language backgrounds. The school is situated on historic Aboriginal Dharuk land with a historic building dating back to 1928. The school believes that everyone is a custodian of our school site. A number of our students are recent immigrants, with a broad range of cultural values and linguistic skills.
Celebrating Democracy Week in a Cultural Diverse Society
On 13 October 2005, the school celebrated Democracy Week by holding a photographic display that represented the theme, Celebrating Democracy Week in a Cultural Diverse Society. Students were encouraged to photograph one another performing a range of activities, in either the playground or the classroom. These photographs were framed and displayed around the school for the whole school community to view. Individual photographs were returned to the students as a memoir and historical record of their school life at Merrylands East. For a number of students, these photos were the first tangible account of their learning in an Australian school.
On Wednesday 26 October, the Member for Reid, Mr Laurie Ferguson MP, visited our school and addressed a primary assembly. He fielded questions from the students on a broad range of issues, ranging from immigration to the decision to build New Parliament House.
Most importantly, Celebrating Democracy Week encouraged in students an awareness of the different cultural values and beliefs that make up a peaceful and harmonious local community. In addition to their photographs, students also created artworks that reflected the sense of freedom they have living in Australia. Some of these artworks were recently displayed in the front foyer at Holroyd Council for general public viewing.
Celebrating Democracy Week achieved its outcomes of:
- fostering a sense of tolerance, understanding, peace and friendship in a culturally diverse community
- examining issues of citizenship, both past and present, and the issues of social justice and access to quality educational programs
- creating historical biographies of students in an educational environment
- integrating aspects of differing cultures and peoples into classroom activities.
Feedback and evaluation of the photographic display indicated that it was an exemplary exhibition of democracy working well in a culturally diverse community, a key strength of our school.