Music powers inclusion at St Gertrude’s refugee week event

Music and food became the fabric of inclusion when more than 100 parents shared in Refugee Week celebrations at St Gertrude’s Catholic Primary School Smithfield.

After a multicultural morning tea, families listened as LaSalle Catholic College Bankstown Year 10 student and Sydney Youth Orchestra violinist Aboud Kablo played for them.

Like many families in the St Gertrude’s community, Aboud arrived in Australia after fleeing persecution in Syria.  There are more than 110 refugee students currently enrolled at the school.

The children are very accepting.

– Linda O’Regan

Arabic musician Adnan Baraki also played the oud for students. After the performance Ceasar Marin led students in a Latin music workshop – introducing them to instruments including the conga drums and charanga, a small string instrument inspired by the Spanish guitar.

Principal Linda O’Regan said the event allowed the school community to recognise and celebrate its diversity.

“It’s a great way to bring the community together,” she said.

“So many of our families are recently arrived or have come to the Fairfield area as refugees in the past. The theme for refugee week is around sharing a story and music is a great way for us all to join in because it is universal.”

Mrs O’Regan said newly arrived families had access to an Arabic interpreter and Sydney Catholic Schools’ refugee liaison officer, who connects parents with support services at school and community level.

“The children are very accepting and happy to include them in their games and activities – it doesn’t matter where they come from. Once their English skills grow, you forget they are a refugee. They make a great adjustment to our community.”

Parent Sanaa Kamil, whose three children attend the school, arrived in Australia as a refugee in 2007 and is now an interpreter for the Chaldean community.

“It was wonderful,” she said of the event. “I always love to be within the community.”

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