IT’S not every day that 797 dishes from 11 restaurants arrive at our College doors on Treasure Rd.
Nor is it every day that a tour group of Japanese students – the first in WA since the pandemic – are greeted at our school gates by students and staff dressed in costumes from all over the globe.
But these were some of the highlights at St Norbert College’s 10th annual Harmony Day on March 21, which celebrated the 44 different cultures represented at our College.
For Harmony Day, St Norbert College treated all its staff and students, and their international guests, to a free lunch chosen from 11 international cuisines, all cooked and delivered from local restaurants. A whole-school liturgy, national costume parade, multicultural quiz, multicultural live music performance and the international food feast were capped off with boomerang dot painting and a stall run by the Sikh community, which introduced students to the experience of turban tying.
On the lunch menu were curries, banh mi rolls, noodles, nasi goreng, biryani, burritos, falafel kebabs, pizza, pasta, lasagne, steak pies, sushi and more.
It was the perfect day for students from Kindai University Fukuoka High School, in the southern island Kyushu, to get a taste of Australian education and multiculturalism.
“Our students had such a great day,’’ said Jason Hutchinson, managing director of Gold Educational Tours which organises Japanese school immersions to WA.
“This school is the first Japanese high school to visit WA in 2023 and although only a handful have come since we opened the borders last year, we have more than 20 student groups coming in 2023 so the eagerness for Japanese parents, teachers and students to go abroad and have these kinds of interactive activities is very strong.’’
The visiting Japanese students were paired with St Norbert College students who study the language – all enthusiastically participating in Japanese classes, maths and PE lessons as well as a host of Harmony Day activities. The tour group brought with them games and activities to share with our students.
Year 12 St Norbert student Sharie Fernandez, who was paired with visiting student Hirona, said playing Japanese games and doing activities such as origami and calligraphy were a highlight.
“I think the Japanese students learnt a lot about the Australian high school environment, and the many different cultures in Australia, as Harmony Day showcased the multiple cultures our school has from countries all over the world
“The highlight for me was getting to know the Japanese exchange students and doing fun activities with them,’’ Sharie said.
Japanese language teacher, Keiko Gray, added: “Our Year 12 boys and three Japanese boys were even singing together. One of our students told me she had so much fun that now wanted to do ATAR Japanese next year.’’
Year 12 student Jeann Valdez explained: “It was a surreal experience. Ever since I’ve started studying Japanese, I’ve always wanted to speak to somebody from Japan. Of course, I have some Japanese friends, but communicating with somebody with a language barrier proved to be more fun, as there was an evident difference in culture, which we had to work around. Being able to relate with people from the other side of the world in terms of music, interests, anime was also very fun.
“I learnt that language is such a volatile concept, and that despite having a culture and language barrier, there were many things that we shared in common. I also learnt that when communicating to different people was a challenge. Suddenly, it become difficult to use Australian lingo/slang; we have to improvise. I remember this one time this person was trying to tell me to get something, but they said “getto suru” which made me laugh a bit.
“Without any doubt the highlight was when the boys started singing (passionately yelling) Japanese songs. I think a few of the Japanese girls took videos too, since they were so intrigued by it. I know the boys in my class love singing Japanese songs, and the fact that the Japanese boys knew the songs we liked and joined in, was even better!”
College Harmony Day co-ordinator and head of mathematics, Colette Miranda, said Harmony Day 2023 was a logistical challenge but something all students and staff and our visitors enjoyed.
A big thanks to our Media Team for the following pics which captured some of the colour and excitement of the day: