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Languages Week - Passion for Culture

During the week Monday 3 August to Friday 7 August, the College community celebrated Languages Week. This year’s theme was ‘Passion for Culture’ which was celebrated at both a Languages assembly and a multicultural fair. This was a wonderful opportunity for all our students, parents, staff and invited guests to come together as a community and celebrate the wonderful diverse cultural backgrounds here at the College.

Languages Week is a recognition and celebration of all cultures that are represented at Merici and also in the wider ACT community. It aims to celebrate diversity and to promote that different cultures can all contribute and live together peacefully in understanding of each other.

The 2011 Census showed that one quarter (24 per cent) of the ACT’s usual residents were born overseas. The ACT is enriched by these communities that were added to the previous settlers after WW2, and is also enriched by the presence and contribution of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders residents. Canberrans come from over 200 different countries and our city is among one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world today.

I would invite you to embrace the theme and share your Passion for Culture - more information on the activity to come later. But first let’s take a brief look at the cultures represented within our school.

As a part of Languages Day last year Merici staff and students were invited to respond to a heritage survey where we could map the composition of our school population. The graphic shows the staff and students as a percentage (a number out of 100) on the world map.

As you can see just over half come from the United Kingdom, with 53 % but that all the world’s continents are represented including the students of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage. It’s a wonderful thing to consider that we have the opportunity to grow up in such a melting pot of culture and that we have the opportunity to share, enjoy and be enriched not only by languages but by food, dance and traditions from all the world’s cultures.

On Tuesday 4 August, a special Assembly for students in the gymnasium. The assembly commenced with a very special Welcome to Country presented by Ngunnawal elder, Aunty Janette Phillips. The students also welcome special guest speaker Miss Carina Zeccola, a former student (Class of 2007) spoke to students about her journey since graduating from Merici. While at Merici, Carina studied Italian from Year 7 through to College and travelled to Italy in 2006 with the Merici Italian Study Tour, Miss Zeccola spoke about her university studies and career path and reiterated the importance of the study of languages which she believes has helped her to travel to different continents and build relationships with people of different heritages.

The community also welcomed Dr Jane Golley from the Australian National University.

Dr Golley is currently the Associate Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World at the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific.

She is an economist focused on a range of Chinese transition and development issues. She is an Associate Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World, ANU, and head of the China Numbers research stream. Her career has taken her from the Asia Section of the Australian Commonwealth Treasury to the World Bank in Washington DC, and the UNU’s World Institute for Development Economics Research in Helsinki. Jane spent eight years studying and teaching at the University of Oxford, where her thesis was on ‘The Dynamics of Chinese Regional Development’.

Dr Golley also speaks Chinese and Japanese.           

We would like to thank our guest speakers for their attendance.

In addition, our current exchange students from Italy and France spoke to the students about their experiences while on exchange in Australia. These students infuse our community with rich cultural and linguistic influences that greatly assist and motivate our language students and have a positive effect on the intercultural perspectives of all members of the Merici community.

Language Perfect World Championship Certificates were also presented to Ellie McLelland, Charlotte Schroeder-Juratowich and Brodie Flack of Year 8.

On Thursday, 6 August, a multicultural fair, ‘Passion for Culture!’ was held at lunchtime in the College’s Indigenous Garden. Activities included dance performances, street mime, Food in the Garden, henna tattoos, Indigenous Art, Japanese calligraphy, sidewalk chalk activities, and lots more. Particular thanks are extended to Mr Fabrice Boone, teacher, and parents who provided home-made international food and cakes for the Food in the Garden stall. We would also like to thank Jade Esler for her International Cupcakes. We greatly appreciate their time and effort on making our stall such a success! We hope that all our students and staff enjoyed a week of “Passion for Culture”.

Antonietta Martiniello

Languages Facilitator

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