Principal's Blog - 19 July 2018

16 Jul 2018

Dear members of the Marcellin College Family,

We often hear the phrase, we are all global citizens. I think it is a phrase often lost on us here in our little corner of the world. As Australians I feel that we live in a bit of a bubble, far away from the rest of the planet. We see reports on the news about events and situations which are occurring in other parts of world and it is easy to believe that they are not relevant to us. We are content with and contained in this large island we call home and it is easy to become a little insular. It is not until we travel beyond our own shores that our place as members of a broader human family of nations and peoples becomes apparent. We discover people and nations who do not always live the way we live or see the world the way we see it. I ask myself the question; What is the role and responsibility of schools to inform our students about the world around them? What too is the benefit of exposing our young people to knowledge and experiences which provide them with a greater awareness and understanding of the many diverse people and places beyond our neck of the woods?

At Marcellin we have a strong commitment to providing our students with rich opportunities to experience the world beyond their own backyard. Opportunities for our boys to travel on well organised and educative immersion experiences to a variety of local, national and international destinations are a hallmark of our College curricula and co-curricula programs. The obvious benefits of these experiences range from the linguistic to the artistic, from the geographical to the historical and from the sociological to the theological. If these were the only reasons then I believe we have missed a significant opportunity. Through venturing further afield than the corner shop our boys are exposed to the beauty and diversity of humanity. We know that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. It is not until we meet people in their own space and place that we develop an empathy, understanding and appreciation of the other which we will never find by watching a film or reading a textbook.

Over the term break I enjoyed the privilege of traveling to Indonesia with 15 inspiring young men and three dedicated teachers, led by our highly skilled, passionate and energetic teacher of Indonesian, Ibu Nani Thomas and supported by Hugh Holliday and Zaki our Indonesian language assistant. At the same time 33 young men ventured to Italy with five equally committed staff led by the irrepressible John  D’Natale and Alfio Camarda and supported by Nadia Bonvicino, Sarah Cattapan and Nick Moloney. Each of these immersion experiences provided our boys with once in a life time opportunities to authentically engage with the people, culture and language of these countries. Each too challenged our boys to think about their place as global citizens.

I am very grateful to the staff who walked with our boys each step of the way and her cared for them and provided them with rich and valuable opportunities to see life through the eyes of their fellow brothers and sisters from distant lands.

As part of the immersion program, each day a different student was asked to provide his own insight on what the group had experienced that day. I encourage you to read these blog posts on the MyMarcellin page of our website. I am sure that like me you will be heartened and amazed at the diverse opportunities they engaged in the thoughtful and mature insights they provide. Below I have reprinted a couple of these blog entries for your interest:

Italian Immersion 2018

In Assisi we visited the Basilica di San Chiara and Basilica di San Francesco. The frescoes painted by Giotto and the divine nature of the church allowed the boys to take time out of their days to reflect with God while in the Basilica Di San Francesco. This opportunity was very meaningful and inspirational as it allowed us to share our prayers and connect and grow closer as a Marist community. 

After San Gimignano we boarded the bus for a short time and arrived in Siena. We walked over to the church of Saint Domenico and explored its understated interior. The church hosts the relics of Saint Caterina, the patron saint of Italy. As we were exiting the church we watched as the parade of the Palio Di Siena came down the street from the main piazza and entered the church. This was a truly colourful and loud procession which captured the spirit of the small city. 

We finally came back to Venezia after this rewarding experience and visited the Basilica San Marco, the cathedral in St Mark’s Square before finishing the day on a relaxing Gondola ride through the canals. We were surprised with how quiet Venezia felt when we were out on the canals, it was calming and peaceful. It’s fair to say no trip to Venezia would be complete without this and it was a fitting end to our time in this beautiful city

My previous thoughts on Venice were that it would be a beautiful city revolving around the water which it is, however I did not understand the history of the city and that Venice is not all about the canals but has rich character throughout the whole city. I knew Venice would be busy with tourists but I did not expect the crowds to be this big!

Indonesian Immersion 2018

As we arrived in Semarang we got off the bus to explore a local village called kampung pelangi (rainbow village). This village has been colourfully painted with the help of the government. As we adventured up many steep hills we really saw how lucky we are to have many opportunities, as many people in this village lived in tiny box houses with no backyard and living on top of each other. We had reached the top and really saw how people live and the reality of their life, and what people must deal with. But it is funny as everyone we see in these villages all have amazing smiles on their face even with the little they have. At one point of the trip I saw this girl who was trying to make a living and sell some drinks out the front of her little house and so I went up to her and placed some money in her hands and said terima kasih.

We travelled to a high school we are hoping to build a relationship with, SMKN 2 Sewon, a vocational school in Yogyakarta, as we arrived we were introduced to the staff and had a tour of the school. The staff were extremely generous and kind hearted and made us feel welcome instantly. What was immediately apparent was the hope the school community had although they are not as fortunate as us in Australia. We were then seated for a gathering with the school staff, they were very hospitable offering us various traditional Indonesian delicacies and presenting each of us with a t-shirt designed by the school’s visual communication students. The gathering served as a warm introduction to our new relationship and a chance to begin forming a connection that will broaden our understanding of the culture behind the language we study.

This trip has been a massive eye-opener for all of us taking part as it has shown how fortunate we are in Melbourne compared to how the people in Indonesia live. It has been a real worthwhile experience so far and we have also improved our language skills whilst immersing ourselves in the culture of Indonesia.

Mark Murphy