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Respect and Responsibility

Promoting values in education

Beverly Hills IEC logo

Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre

Michael Harmey, Head Teacher

Tel +61 2 9533 1293

Menai High School Menai High School logo

Robert Lindsay, Deputy Principal

Tel +61 2 9543 7000

Dimensions: Inter-school Programs, Human Rights, Cultural Awareness, Cultural Exchange

Focusing on the Similarities

In responding to the racial unrest in Sutherland Shire at the end of 2005 students from Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre (IEC) came together with students from Menai High School under the Schools Cultural Exchange Program. This cross-sectoral program aims to encourage community harmony by bringing together students from different cultural, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds.

Initially students from Beverly Hills IEC visited Menai High School to share stories and personal experiences through games and drama role play. In a subsequent visit by Menai High School to Beverly Hills IEC the students acted out alternative scenarios to the violence at Cronulla to illustrate how conflict could be managed.

The students learned a lot about each other and investigated the role media plays in shaping public opinion. Long-term friendships were formed with some of the students exchanging emails and becoming pen-pals.

The program is ongoing and further activities are planned. These include the Aussie Bush Experience, a bush walk and a visit to the Symbio native animal zoo, a multicultural concert and food day, and a 'cultural sensitivity' day in which the entire Menai High Year 7 will work through a series of jointly designed workshops. Future plans include Cooling Conflicts training for all students.

Michael Harmey, Head Teacher of Beverly Hills IEC, said the program has taught its participants to redirect the focus away from judging others. 'All of us are different', Mr Harmey said. 'We're focusing on the similarities, not the differences, and these are the things that bind us together as Australians'.

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