Endeavouring to be tolerant, inclusive and embracing of all – Harmony Week.

Endeavouring to be tolerant, inclusive and embracing of all – Harmony Week.

In reflecting on the year so far, so much has happened at Eddie’s already. Events are back in full swing, camps, excursions, sports, parent evenings and so many other activities. We have seen Year 7 go on their first camp together as part of the senior school. Year 12 gathered on their final school retreat and camp experience, and just last week Year 10 embarked on their outdoor ed experience up at the Colo River. I attended all these camps and in reflecting on these experiences for the boys. My belief in the importance of these experiences for our children has deepened.

On these camps, students get to bond, share, be themselves, be active and have more meaningful conversations. In playing games, doing sports, sharing stories, cooking meals, meditating, reflecting on their life and so on, they get the opportunity to develop skills of deep listening, sharing, tolerating others, patience, perseverance, helping others, being courageous and taking safe risks. They took a step back from technology and actually talked to each other. In acknowledging Harmony Week across Australia this week, these camp experiences provide our young men with an opportunity to put into practice the skills needed to be people of tolerance, acceptance and understanding.

A focus over the last few weeks during Formation lessons with some of our cohorts has centred around tolerance, acceptance and having a growth mindset. This has been deliberate in leading into the themes of Harmony Week. What many people in Australia are unaware of is that Harmony Day on the 21st March, was born out of the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day was established to mark the horrific massacre of 69 people in the township of Sharpeville, South Africa, where African people were peacefully protesting ‘Black Afrians’ need to carry an internal passport which stopped them from travelling freely across their own country. It was a day that sparked international outrage and brought to attention the ongoing racial vilification of many of the world’s people.

In Australia, we need to be mindful that for some of our citizens, both new to Australia and those whose families have been here for generations, the idea of Harmony Day is not always a day of celebration or harmonious spirit as their own experiences have been more of segregation, abuse, rejection and fear. Somehow we need to get the balance right between acknowledging the amazing diverse and inclusive spirit that we so often see in Australia against the hostile and vile elements of racism that still exist in parts of our society.

As teachers, we constantly educate our students around the importance of watching the language they use in off-the-cuff comments or what they consider to be banter. Unfortunately, there are still times when we hear terms used that are racist in nature, derogatory and isolating to specific groups of people, even if the intention was not to cause harm. As a whole community, we need to keep educating our young men about choices in words they use, how their actions can impact others, how one phrase of welcome or inclusion can make someone’s day and how they can be agents of change in this world. Sometimes it is just small changes in the way we speak or do things that can help to make others feel more included and less isolated.

We have so much to embrace here at Eddies in regards to diversity. We see the energy in the boys when they are competing at carnivals, when they sing their school song or when they get together at the end of a footy game.  One of the highlights recently was seeing and hearing the chanting at the swimming carnival with different boys and staff members jumping off the diving boards. That’s when you see inclusion at its best.

Monica Day
Assistant Principal- Student Wellbeing