Acting Dean of Identity | Mr Terry Thompson
I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matthew 25:35)
On Tuesday, Year 11 students wore ‘happy socks’ (colourful socks) to raise awareness and funds for Refugee Week. Students raised $300 for Br Peter Harney’s ‘Welcome to the Stranger Project’ - a group of volunteers working with people seeking asylum in Brisbane.
Year 11 students, Eden Chan and Jake Laherty spoke to the Year 11 cohort about this significant issue. Below is their reflection about Refugee Week and their fundraiser.
There are 26 million refugees in the world right now. That’s 26 million people without homes, without countries, and possibly without family. It can be difficult to appreciate the humane scale of a figure like that in a place like Australia; however, almost a million refugees have been settled here since 1947, with thousands more every year – refugees constitute an indisputably integral part of Australian society. That’s why National Refugee Week was held this week, to celebrate the contribution of refugees that typically go unnoticed. The theme for this year was ‘welcome’, an idea which ties perfectly into one of Terrace’s EREA touchstones: a commitment to building an inclusive community. We felt it was important to integrate the values implicit in that touchstone actively inside the Terrace community, and so we held a ‘happy sock’ fundraiser and a sausage sizzle to raise awareness among the future seniors. The event proved a great opportunity to celebrate a not frequently discussed subject, raise money for donations, and also have some fun.
Since 1947, Australia has welcomed more than 900 000 refugees, with thousands more arriving every year. Although this number is undoubtedly large, we often gloss over the fundamentally human aspect of our refugees here in Australia. In 2019, I was fortunate enough to volunteer at Milpera State High School – an intensive English language school for young people of refugee and migrant backgrounds. Although Milpera’s students hailed from a wide range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, their love for all things Australia was undeniable. It made me appreciate the profound contribution of refugees here in Australia, and it’s something I’ll never forget. For the first time, I was able to see the human aspect of refugees; these kids were not just numbers or statistics, but rather, hard-working, optimistic people. This year’s National Refugee Week theme of the ‘welcome’ challenges us to consider the hardships and struggles of refugees across the globe. This week, the boys in Year 11 held a ‘happy sock’ fundraiser to raise awareness on this issue; it helped us to recognise the often ignored contributions of refugees in Australian society, and it was a time to reflect on the core values and Touchstones of the Terrace community.
Year 9 students are currently studying a unit on the plight of refugees in Religious Education. A student in Mrs Monica Keating’s class created the following prayer -
God our protector,
We ask you to protect those who have survived the treacherous journey undertaken by refugees and asylum seekers, to have a better life and allow them to rebuild it in a safe environment.
Help us to understand what they are going through.
May we be more willing to accept refugees and asylum seekers into our community.
Let us be more compassionate and kinder.
Motivate us to be more involved in charities that help refugees and asylum seekers.
Encourage us to learn about the hardships and suffering that they have endured.
Guide us in our mission to help all feel safe.
We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Live Jesus in our Hearts…Forever