Young people settling in a new country face considerable change. Every day brings them new experiences and ways of looking at the world. They need time and space to learn a new language, embrace a bi-cultural identity and feel a sense of belonging. They also need to consider their futures: the skills they require to succeed within a new cultural context and how to strike a balance between what they like to do and are already good at.
At The Huddle, we work with recently arrived teenagers, to learn the language of work and articulate aspirations. They imagine a future for them selves and plan towards making it a reality. They consider the steps required to seek a part-time job and learn about the differences between skills, education, qualification, and work-based training.
In a world this is increasingly globalized, young migrants should fare well – they are readily able to imagine working cross-culturally and internationally; they are flexible and accustomed to change; they are bilingual; and from my observations, they have a strong sense of citizenship and desire to help others.
Over the year, The Huddle has had the privilege of seeing teenagers grow and learn through a Mentoring Program for students from Mackillop Catholic College (Werribee). The program saw students in Year 10 become more confident in seeking the support of adults in developing their pathways and imagining their futures.
As a part of the program, this impressive group of young men also identified barriers to their well-being and to meeting their aspirations. Barriers were addressed by enhancing strategies for dealing with racism, strengthening bi-cultural identity, improving communication with adults, and encouraging a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
The Mentoring Program enabled a two-way learning experience for participants, with teenagers and mentors feeling they learnt from each other through workshops, open dialogue and group discussion. All participants celebrated the honesty of this two-way learning experience, and saw the benefits of an equal relationship between teenagers and adults where the challenges, successes and joys of life were shared.
As a result of the program, these young men now feel they are more confident, have chosen the pathway that is right for them, can communicate better with their parents and are more able to set and achieve goals. They also feel more confident about completing school, looking for work, planning their future and living across cultures.
We’ve had a great start to the year at The Huddle with growing numbers of students attending our Study Support program and some new programs for schools.
Newly arrived secondary students came together for a day to explore career options and pathways. Aged 16 and over, the students are nearing the end of their intensive English language centre programs and are soon to enter secondary schools and TAFE. A group of committed volunteers supported each student to leave with a resume on a USB stick, increase confidence about where to study and work and identify some long and short term goals.
CREATING HEALTH CAMPAIGNS
VCAL students from St Aloysius College and Simonds Catholic College came together each Monday to explore health campaigns around gambling, tobacco, healthy lifestyles and racism. Later in the year, they will design a campaign to present face-to-face and in a digital format.
LEARNING ABOUT MELBOURNE AND COLONISATION
Brunswick English Language Centre students learnt history by examining primary sources relating to the settlement of Melbourne. Whilst the topic is vast and ambitious for newly arrived students, it was possible to navigate key concepts by asking students how they might approach a people in a place they wanted to settle and what you should do. We then went on to introduce the word “colonisation” which they were able to relate to their home countries or other countries they knew of, either as colonisers or the colonised.
Yesterday, 80 students in Year 5 from North Melbourne Primary School showcased books they created about local history at The Huddle, sharing them with teachers, each other, their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
Their books highlighted their careful research, writing and presentation skills as well as their learning at The Huddle this year through the “Early Melbourne” program. Using the Sydney-based “My Place” book as a starting point, the students created books on the history of the North Melbourne area going back over many decades. They explored the changes to the landscape and the lives of those who live here now and have lived here in the past. They immersed themselves in creative writing, assuming the characters of past inhabitants, and the books were illustrated lavishly.
The students also took the opportunity to reflect on the learning process in the development of these projects over the semester. They reflected on the process, its challenges and their learnings via Prezi, eBooks and other digital formats.
The enormous effort they went to, illustrated the importance of a connection to place – of knowing it and of belonging to a community as well as feeling a connection to the communities of the past. Due to waves of immigration this is even more striking in a place such as inner city Melbourne. The students clearly valued the experiences of looking at the world through the eyes of past inhabitants, imagining past landscapes and empathizing with changes as they were experienced by people who once walked the very streets they know so well.
The depth of learning that these students were engaged in was very impressive. The breadth of the topic allowed them to explore their interests – people, cultures, the environment, food, housing, the built environment and so forth – and present them in a range of digital and print-based formats.
Shamso, her aunt and cousin with me on the day she received the scholarship
Shamso, her aunt and cousin with me on the day she received the scholarship
Last year, two young women involved in The Huddle’s Study Support Program were awarded scholarships by NMFC group ‘Inspire’, to support them with their studies. Shamso, a newly arrived migrant from Somalia, was one of the recipients and has used the award to support her studies in Year 10 at a local secondary school in Footscray.
Shamso has a most gracious presence in The Huddle. She is open, loving and thoughtful. She has moved here to live with her aunt and plans to study nursing. For now, she is working at acquiring English language and literacy skills and learning where to focus her efforts within a new education system. She is settling well into Australian society and is very grateful to be supported to achieve her best.
In October this year, thanks to the women of Inspire, further scholarships were awarded to female members of The Huddle community – read about it on the NMFC website and hear how they will benefit from this wonderful opportunity.
At The Huddle, one of the places we learn about through observation and images is the Moonee Ponds Creek.
The Moonee Ponds Creek is a neglected environment only a block away from The Huddle. Though many students live close to it, they do not recall the creek readily. Having been a swampy area with seasonal flooding, I understand the creek is currently categorized as a drain. Further upstream, it runs along a freeway and has been a concreted environment since the 1960’s. Near Arden St, it still tends to flood and running alongside the creek’s edge are a trainline, a bike path and an overhead freeway. Despite the urbanisation of the creek, with a focus on transport and other infrastructure, there is life in and around the creek.
The Huddle invites young people to document what they see along the creek on video. It also invites them to consider their vision for what a creek and indeed this particular creek should be like.
To date we have discovered a lot of wildlife at the creek including – black swans, ibis, turtles, ducks; indigenous reeds, peppercorn trees and grasses. We have also noticed that it is a flood plane which floods regularly, that people live under the bridges, and that there are gas lines, factories, an electrical station and a plethora of train infrastructure between here and the Docklands.
Young people visiting The Huddle have not been aware that there are major plans for development along the creek. This includes the plans relating to the Arden Macaulay Structure Plan, the East-West Road Link and a train station at Arden St. The vision young people at The Huddle have for the creek is that it should be a cleaner environment, that it should make space for plants and animals and that the impact of urbanization on the natural environment should be considered in future planning.
Their films document the environment as it is today. We wonder what will become of it in the near future …..
One student, the daughter of a cameraman from Iraq who has migrated to Australia, brought along her own video camera and made a movie narrated in her first language. I look forward to seeing what she may create in the future.
The Traditional Stories program at The Huddle develops language and literacy skills in primary aged students through stories from Arnhem land using multimedia and video.
Students view stories from the ABC’s Dust Echoes and practice retelling them using props such as scarves, felt, shells and rocks. The props help them to abstract meaning and the essence of each story and then focus on the language, narrative form and performance. Working in groups, they collaborate to learn the story by reading it aloud, viewing it, taking a quiz and doing a mash up on the Dust Echoes website. This tunes them into the language, music and sounds they might choose before they attempt to retell the story with the props.
Once the students have rehearsed the storytelling, it is then recorded on video as a performance to be shared at a later date. After their renditions of the story, they are readily able to lead a discussion around the community values, morals and learning from the story. They build intercultural understanding and discuss their own values as well as making connections to their own cultures and experiences.
Teenagers newly arrived in Melbourne come to The Huddle regularly to learn computer skills and build language around items that hold special memories for them. The computer skills of students vary greatly, depending on where they come from, their levels of literacy and education and the experiences with computers.
They practice personal pronouns and language to describe the object and its significance. This opens the possibility for them to share their feelings and experiences through speaking and listening, visually with photographs and in writing using the stylus on Samsung slates. They make a poster using photos and writing about their items which is shared online so that their stories exist beyond The Huddle.
Students from the Midwest Clontarf Academy travelled from Geraldton to Melbourne as a reward for participation and effort in school last week. Once they complete school at the end of the year, they will be the largest cohort of indigenous students to complete school together in Australia’s history.
They joined us at The Huddle to talk to our amazing indigenous players, Daniel Wells and Lindsay Thomas. Both Wells and Thomas spoke of their past, their entry into footy and the opportunities that AFL has given them. They emphasized that a positive attitude, learning to be a leader (not a follower) and working hard is what helped them to be successful in AFL. They also spoke of their desire to give back to community and to support indigenous people. Their generosity, gratitude, enthusiasm and modesty were all noted. The discussion enabled students to consider career paths and how to make the most of opportunities that come their way.
Below are the strengths of character that the students identified in Wells and Thomas after talking with them. Conversations like these inspire young people to make plans, set goals, gain confidence and understand themselves and their place in the world. The Midwest Clontarf Academy’s logo “From Little Things, Big Things Grow” reinforces our work at The Huddle where connecting with players and others in the community helps all of us to listen, to be empathetic and to grow.
Over the next few weeks, students will learn about the settlement of Melbourne and consider the impact of Europeans on the Koori people. The Huddle’s program “Early Melbourne” focuses on events in the early 1800’s, through the lives of three characters: William Barak, William Buckley and John Batman. Learning about this significant event, enables students to consider indigenous Australia, intercultural understanding and events that form the basis of our existence in modern-day Melbourne. This is pivotal to reconciliation, knowing the place we live in and building our community by understanding our place within it.
The program begins with a pre-learning activity I call “Graffiti the Treaty” where students write titles, captions, thought bubbles and speech bubbles on a painting of white settlers (John Batman) making a treaty with Koori leaders in 1835. This is done on our Samsung Slates, using its stylus and a digital image of the painting.
They go on to learn about the lives of Barak, Batman and Buckley by viewing images and texts from the 1800’s – for example, a transcript of a treaty, paintings of the natural environment and early settlement, photographs of indigenous people at Flagstaff and paintings by William Barak. They also view video commentary on the significance of these that are sourced from Victoria’s key cultural institutions available through Culture Victoriahttp://www.cv.vic.gov.au and browse the National Museum of Australia’s interactive resource Batmaniahttp://www.nma.gov.au/interactives/batmania/shell.html
Discussion, being an important part of learning at The Huddle, enables students to question the meanings behind images, facts and events, to uncover the interaction during settlement and express their own views on what happened in Victoria and the situation that indigenous people found themselves in. Through images and discussion, students who are less familiar with Australia because they have only lived here for a short time, are also able to examine the origins of Melbourne and express their views on it. Students rotate through learning stations to examine pictures, maps and artifacts relating to the content so they can recycle language and grasp concepts through discussion with their peers. They learn new words in Koori languages and identify how central Melbourne, the docks, bay and Yarra have changed over the past 200 years.
At the end of the program, I will ask students to discuss whether the exchange of items such as axes, mirrors, flour, blankets and scissors was a fair exchange for 500,000 acres of land and how the exchange and settlement could have happened differently. The students will also make “freeze frames”, shot on Samsung Slates, depicting scenes from the extraordinary life of William Buckley – the escapee who lived with the indigenous people around Port Phillip Bay for 32 years prior to the arrival of Batman and Faulkner.