A group of 16 dedicated students and four teachers from St Patrick’s Marist College, Dundas had the immersion experience of a lifetime, travelling to India during the Term 3 school holidays.
The journey provided an opportunity to engage with the local community, learn more about the many cultures of India, and serve their sister school, Marist Nursery and Primary School in Viyalanmedu, Trichy.
Led by Year 7 Leader of Learning Jared Hornby, the immersion took 12 months of planning and fundraising. The program has been a tradition at the College since 2014 when Assistant Principal Matthew Paton travelled to India to establish a partnership with local Marist Brothers.
“Every year, St Patrick’s Marist College hosts a walkathon to raise money to help the Marist Nursery and Primary School. This year close to $30,000 was raised,’’ Mr Hornby said.
Mr Hornby said the money has been used to help with the building of the school which was only a “slab” when he first saw it and has now grown into a thriving school for preschoolers.
Year 11 students are invited to participate in the immersion. This year, there were a significant number of applicants and 16 were chosen by interview.
The experience was a personal journey of discovery and development for each student and teacher.Student Katrina loved seeing the positive impact of College fundraising efforts on the community. “I think if you are given an opportunity like this you should take it and I am very grateful I was able to,” Katrina said.
Fellow student Anton said this trip really took him outside his comfort zone, reflecting on the large number of people begging in the streets.
“For me personally, it gave me a sense of independence as I wasn’t able to enjoy the comforts and luxuries of home to fall back on and I had to learn to rely more on myself and adapt,’’ Anton said.
For student Claudia, the immersion was her first trip overseas. This learning experience, led her to reflect on cultural differences. “It’s important to be respectful and aware of your surroundings,’’ Claudia said.
Student Riley said despite listening to past students talking about their India immersion experience, nothing could prepare him for his own journey.
He said despite finding the heat and traffic chaos a challenge, the planting of trees at the Marist Nursery and Primary School on their last day really meant a lot to him “as it felt like we were able to leave our own mark, which they can benefit from for generations to come”.
Teacher Mr Hornby, who has now participated in the immersion three times, felt sad that this year’s trip would be his last.
“When I first went it was all new to me, the second trip last year allowed me to effectively prepare for the 2018 Immersion, which allowed the new teachers to really experience what it is all about,’’ Mr Hornby said.
Plans for next year’s India immersion are already taking shape with leaflets being handed out to students and plans for a bigger and better 2019 walk-a-thon!