Sharing Culture By Jasmine Porter, Year 9

On Pele Island, water is a precious substance. The women collect the water from wells linked to a natural underground water supply. I decided to help a lady named Do collect water for her family’s use. I also helped Anna draw some water for the bungalow we were staying in. We used it for washing and flushing the toilet. It was quite difficult to do but having the chance to fetch the water was awesome. To be able to experience the way the islanders live was beyond amazing.

Not only water, but food is very cherished on Pele. When Cyclone Pam came through Pele in 2015, it destroyed a lot of things including homes and gardens. Only the root crops such as manioc survived and was survival food for months after the cyclone. Now the coconut and banana trees have grown back and are ready for eating. We walked through Anna’s garden and found perfectly good coconuts on the ground. Like the people of Vanuatu on Pele, I carried a coconut on my head, well I tried to anyway. When I collected water and tried to carry a coconut on my head, it gave me a sense that theirs is an open culture, that they were ready to share with all.

From this experience on Pele, I’ve learnt that, a lot of the time, many people take food and water for granted. I don’t think some people realise how important food and water is. A lot of people waste a lot of food and water, but, the people on Pele don’t waste a drop of water or a spoonful of rice. In our society, we take and take all the time and we don’t really give anything back. By spending time on Pele, we were giving. By spending time with the children and living their way, we were also giving.  The exchange of gifts and culture, having their gifts in our embrace is a sign of gratitude for each other. “I+I=1= unity” we were told.

In the farewell ceremony, I gave a gift, from my own Aboriginal culture. To my host Anna, I gave a handwoven basket and two boomerangs made by my mum and stepdad. I was given a beautiful handwoven bag, made by Anna. It was important that we shared our cultures because I don’t get to do that often. Being able to share my culture with people from another culture was an amazing experience.

To read more about student’s experiences on their trip to Vanuatu, please click the following link:

High School Geography on the Road

WHAT AN EPIC ADVENTURE!  A 3000km round trip to some of the most iconic NSW environments. One of the exercises we did in each place was to observe, draw and write about place, then to draw a life lesson from it. The idea was to connect each landscape with our inner soulscape…..below are some life lessons from the students:

….to be like rocks that can get smashed by waves and still stand strong…. Imi

…to be like the old tree and shelter what is smaller and more vulnerable…..Nissa B

….nature provides….Jasmine

…even the moss on the tree root provides shelter and plays a vital role in the cycle of life…..Ella

….if you want to create something amazing, patience is a virtue….Sofia

….the trees stand tall creating shadows to protect creatures below from the burning sun….Oliver

…sometimes it seems someone is blocking your path but if you find a different perspective you may find they are helping or just doing what they need to do….Nissa S

…you have to look past the surface to find true beauty…Kai

…tide in, tide out; good days and bad but don’t give up…..Luca

…out of destruction comes construction; the eruption of the volcano created this special place….Oscar

…these places are special, look after them….Olivia

…don’t let others control you, be who you are and do what you feel is right….Tara L

…people should work together and not only look after themselves…..Amanda

…cooperate with each other; coldness of water and warm of rock….difference can be a bigger attraction than similarity….Belle

….be like the upright tree rather than the vine that is always in need of support….Tara M

AND FROM ME,  reflections on each person through the lens of one of the landscapes visited….

Oliver….Riverina wetlands, quiet waters, shady river gums, haven for waterbirds and playful wrens, as well as the lessons in resilience of flood and drought.

Sofia….Water falls into deep mountain crystal clear pool. Sculpted stone is sunwarmed and inviting.

Olivia…Everywhere you go, invisible breath of life becomes audible as birdsong, pound of wave, rustle of leaves and cool caress to the cheek on a hot afternoon.

Amanda…..Light footed dance of sunlight across waves. Spark and fire meet cool deep ocean.

Oscar…Sunset boy, paints a new scene at evening of the gatherings and gleanings from the observations and reflections  of the day.

Tara L….sun warmed and salted ocean pool, safe harbour for the host of tiny, tidal sea creatures.

Tara M….Lagoon life, the slow flow of luxuriantly lulling tidal journeys, drift and dream…

Kai…eyes of night, campfire constellations, telling stories of the deeds of the brave hearted.

Belle….sun filled tree lined mountain valley. Cascading stream trips, twists and tumbles. Every boulder a chance to leap into sunlight.

Nissa B…spare low blue smoke bush, protection from beating sun. Lift your eye to luminous shimmer along distant dunes of an ancient world.

Imi….Sunrise, eye of day, magical painter of landscapes; paints your day rich and wonderful, or spare and uncomfortable. Rises in wonder to the challenges of both.

Nissa S…Pick you up wild ocean; kiss you, tumble you, smooth and soothe you. Moods of the sea for the savouring.

Jasmine….Sacred place, shore to the mother mountain. Waves lip lap over and around the boulders, connecting mother land to sister sea.

Luca…Wide blue sky as far as the eye can see; light filled observer of life, warms the land and sends the odd clearing shower to get the life flowing again.

Ella…Rainforest, beneath the towering emergent, layers of sheltering canopies. Tall, twisting, tiny, strength and delicacy, critters that bite and medicine for tea. Everything connected.

Journeyman Dan…what connects it all? Senses honed by experience. Sense of wonder, sense of adventure, sense of fun, sense to travel safely, and sense to take the time to be nourished along the way.

Cheers everyone, Lynn