Life changing experience

Welcome back to Term 2. I hope you all had a pleasant break.

I have recently returned from an Indian immersion trip with eight Year 11 students. India is not a pretty place, hot and humid, dirty, dusty and the infrastructure is poor or very limited – however it’s a place that you will never forget.

We had the opportunity to visit Agra and the Tah Mahal, a place that I have always wanted to see. The day we were there was the final day of a nine day fasting for Hindu people, so consequently thousands of people from cities and surrounding villages were also visiting this magnificent monument. It was a kaleidoscope of colourful saris worn by the beautiful women and girls.

We spent 10 days staying in a boys’ ashram in Mumbai, working with the priests, brothers and sisters, assisting with their study and homework, reading, crafts and games. We also had the opportunity to visit the girls and boys in two separate ashrams outside the city of Mumbai.

The girls were confronted with life in the dumps as we visited in the ‘school on wheels’ bus. This is the only schooling these children who live in poverty will ever know. They want for nothing as they have nothing.

We also had the opportunity to spend time in one of the larger schools in Mumbai, Christ Academy, a Kindergarten to Year 10 school. Classes ranged from 30 to 50 plus students yet you could have heard a pin drop. The conditions were extremely good and the teachers, as in our schools, work very hard.

It was a life changing experience for our students who realised just how lucky they are to have a sound education, a roof over their head and food on their table three times a day.

I know that teachers in schools all over Australia have similar immersion trips to many overseas destinations and do fantastic work. If you ever get the opportunity to share in one of these experiences and leave your home comforts for a few weeks, go for it. You will be amazed how life changing it can be for yourself and the students.

I attended the IEU’s Activist Conference in Leura over the first three days of the holidays and once again it was extremely successful. Twenty passionate, energetic participants attended over the three days, learning about the history of our Union, campaigning and awards, accreditation updates and lots of stories from schools. I take this opportunity to thank Marilyn Jervis who organises this worthwhile conference. Also thanks to Helen Gregory and the staff at the Fairmont Resort for the wonderful accommodation and amazing food.

I hope you are looking forward to the busy term ahead with NAPLAN testing, half yearly exams, assessment tasks, parent teacher nights, interviews with new parents and students, report writing and of course teaching.

Have a great term, enjoy the cooler weather and stay well.

Chris Wilkinson