St Gertrude’s students in Harmony

Here at St Gertrude’s everyone belongs. These were the words St Gertrude’s Catholic Primary Smithfield chose for their banner to celebrated Harmony Day on June 23.

Students took part in a liturgy and special assembly, which included flag and traditional dress parades, and Kindergarten students demonstrated greetings in a range of languages.

About 91 per cent of students at the school have a language background other than English, and 74 per cent speak English as an additional language or dialect.

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Kindergarten teacher Michelle Wozniak and Religious Education Coordinator Jodie Micallef said the day was a celebration of the schools cultural diversity.

“Harmony Day is a day of cultural respect for everyone who calls Australia home – from the traditional owners of this land to those who have come from many countries around the world,” Mrs Micallef said.

“By participating in Harmony Day activities we have learnt and understand how all Australians from diverse backgrounds equally belong to this nation and enrich it.”

Students learnt about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through ‘Kadul’, an Indigenous workshop presented by Ryka Ali and his grandmother Cindy, whose heritage stems from the Wuthathi tribe of Shelburne Bay, Cape York.

It’s important to have Harmony Day so that we keep peace throughout the world.

– Christopher Dinh

Students from all grades feasted on multicultural food prepared by 57 parent volunteers including tabouleh, pastries, noodles and cabbage rolls, before completing ‘passport’ activities.

Year 2 teacher Angela Papadam’s students made a Mexican bird rattle, traditionally used to welcome good spirits on New Year’s Eve.

“Teachers chose a different country for each classroom so the students could explore different cultures,” she said.

“Each tradition has their own ways. It’s about being accepting of that, not saying ‘Oh, that’s different’ and judging it, and for students to see that there are other cultures outside their own. It’s exploring multiculturalism in Australia because in this school we have so many different backgrounds.”

Year 2 student Anna Mouradain said she thought the bird rattle design was pretty and that it was important to celebrate Harmony Day “so all the people can learn about their countries and so that we can have peace and no more wars.”

Year 6 students Sophie Vo and Christopher Dinh’s classmates have diverse heritages including Assyrian, Scottish, New Zealander, Egyptian, Vietnamese, Italian, Lebanese, English and Armenian.

They made fans painted with Japanese-inspired designs, a passport activity which followed one with an Egyptian cultural theme.

“They have a language called hieroglyphics and we learnt how to spell our name in that,” Sophie said. “We also learnt how to build an origami pyramid.”

Christopher said he had learnt about Japan’s samurai and ninja warriors, and that writing his name in hieroglyphs was a highlight of the day. “The Egyptians used pictures instead of letters,” he said. “It looks a bit like gibberish to me. It’s important to have Harmony Day so that we keep peace throughout the world.”

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