President Peter used the DVD The Platypus: The World’s Most Amazing Animal when he gave 10 lessons to Year 9 English classes in 01 Viqueque and Cabira-oan schools. The students enjoyed the experience. Using a soft toy of the platypus helped, especially how the baby egg ( a tiny piece of white chalk) is cuddled.
It was a great way of telling something wonderful about our country. The two schools have libraries which have been set up by funds provided by Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools and the two new librarians, also funded by us, were both glad to have jobs and being pleased to be part of the schools.
JOHN BUTLER: Our deepest sympathy to Gael and family. A gentle and thoughtful man whose strong commitment to social justice continues as part of his legacy to Timor Leste. President and Committee, Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools. Read the In Memoriam
published in The Geelong Advertiser, Saturday May 16th.
Action Against Global Poverty Speaker
Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools is holding its fifth annual A Day in Viqueque, Timor Leste which comprises workshops and activities on Thursday May 7 at St. Joseph’s College. The program will provide a rewarding and enriching experience for students across all year levels.
The activities give those attending an improved perspective of what it would be like to stay over in Timor Leste, and especially in the District of Viqueque. The students select to participate in four activities, each with its own specific focus, in addition to their participation in the opening and closing sessions.
The students should come away from the day with an improved understanding of village life and the customs and culture of the people of Timor Leste. Speakers for The Global Poverty Project focus attention on the reality of extreme poverty and demonstrate ways other young people are working towards putting an end to poverty around the world.
The day after your final IB and VCE exam…. OK you’ve got 24 hours to relax and take it easy before getting on a plane to Darwin, sleep a few hours at the airport, then getting on another plane and exit into the tropical heat of Dili. This is how a dozen of Kardinia International College’s year 12 students chose to complete their secondary education.
Education of a different sort you might say. Since 2010 Kardinia has been offering the chance to go to a small village in East Timor called Viqueque to volunteer instead of a traditional schoolies trip. This year we carried funds from the Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools to refurbish the Cabira School library, a printer and a very large speaker for 01 Viqueque School. That was the easy part.
For the next 2 weeks we travelled to and from Viqueque and busied ourselves as best we could in the community. Two weeks was clearly not enough time to develop a deep understanding of the Timorese culture but it was enough time to appreciate the beauty of this small country as well as the layers and depth of the issues facing the worlds newest nation.
Our physical tasks this year involved painting of the staff administration building and two classrooms at Viqueque one School which was done over 3 days. But as we were to discover, this journey is not a one way event and there was a great deal for our group to learn about the country they had come to. Our immersion into Timorese culture took many forms, from the happy carefree manner in which the local children adopted us as their new playmates, the friendly curiosity of the school students, Sunday mass at the local church, visits to the local swimming spot, soccer game with 01 students and the boundless hospitality of Mariano da Silva (pictured above with Jonathon) and his family. Much of our limited time was spent just seeing how life was and forming relationships with our partner Viqueque schools and the orphanage. Friendships which I hope will continue in years to come. The only negative experience expressed by our students was that they felt they did not do enough, but as I said, it’s not a one way event. In many ways we received as much as we gave and true impact of our visit may not be felt for years, as the future choices and directions our students and Viqueque students may take as a result of our meeting unfold.
There was also the more confronting side of Timorese history which no visitor to the country could escape. This included a visit to the village of Kraras, site of a major massacre of hundreds of men and boys in 1983, and the Resistance Museum in Dili which intricately laid out the details of the entire 25 year occupation of the small county. Students were both stunned and moved by the stories and sadness experienced so close to home and so recently. Equally moving was the resilience of the Timorese people and every part of Timor showed signs of a country moving on to create a better future for the next generation. At times the entire country resembled a work site as roads, drains, buildings, power, water and infrastructure were being built as quickly as their economy would allow.
Each of us will carry our own memories of this time we spent together and for each of us the journey will hold a different meaning. I myself felt quite proud to have made new friendships and to have even been a tiny part of this fine nation’s future story.
Jonathan Chapman, Teacher
2014 will usher in some big changes with the start of our Language Project in Viqueque. The project has three components, chief of which is the training of teachers by highly skilled providers based in Timor Leste. The Institute of Mary MacKillop will commence its four day teacher training in Viqueque in January. This program concentrates on the teaching of Tetum.
Negotiations are also being finalized with the Learning Resource Development Centre to conduct a five week program using three trainers. This program also concentrates on pedagogy with intensive observation of classroom practice, review and suggestions. Discussion is also taking place with the Bacau Teachers’ College (The Institute of Catholic Formation of Professors) for a further initiative.
The Language Project in Viqueque was formalised in August when the agreement between The Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools and the Ministry of Education Timor Leste was signed by Emidio Amaral, Director of Education Viqueque District and Antoninho Pires, Director General of Corporate Services. The project is being generously funded by a $120,000 donation by Geelong residents Gael and John Butler.
Funds will be used in the provision of additional resources to three pre-secondary schools for libraries and to cover their running costs over two years. Another special project is the rehabilitation of St Teresinha School in Ossu and an initial $10,000 has been provided towards the roof restoration.