Sydney students visit to East Timor

August 28, 2017 by Michelle Favero
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Thirteen Emanuel School students have recently visited East Timor where they spent 11 days teaching English.

Talia Blackman surrounded by children from the Gildapil School

One of the highlights of visiting the country was connecting with the villagers of Gildapil in the far west of Timor Leste.

During the Sydney school’s first visit in 2015, Emanuel’s Outreach Co-ordinator, David Whitcombe, promised the Principal at Gildapil School that Emanuel students would be back to help teach English to their students. This trip successfully fulfilled this promise.

With the help of Emanuel School English teacher, Helen Philp, the students learnt the basics of teaching English as a second language. This helped the young Australians program their lessons for their 3 mornings of teaching the Gildapil School students. With great enthusiasm, the Emanuel visitors used songs and games to help the young children with their new language skills.

Samara Trenaman, Year 9, felt that the trip to Timor Leste was a significant and life-altering experience. “One of the best parts of our stay in Gildapil was the hours we spent playing with the kids on the soccer field, just below where we were staying. We played soccer, football and ‘Duck, Duck Goose’, and took photos and laughed with them. The language barrier wasn’t much of an issue and we made lots of friends whom we were very sad to leave behind.”

Daniel Van Sluys Erlich, one of the Year 10 Emanuel students said: “Coming from a privileged environment with so many opportunities, it is difficult for one to imagine the hardships experienced by the majority of people who live in East Timor. Seeing so many children with so much untapped potential during our time in Gildapil really opened up my eyes to this issue. The trip also impacted my awareness of what I buy, what I use and what I waste.”

Emanuel School students raised money before they left Sydney through a variety of fundraising days. Although Mia Gold, Year 9, found it hard to leave Gildapil, she was happy knowing that the money that had been raised was going to help the villagers to build a bridge to enable the children to cross a stream to get to school in the wet season, and a water pump to help with agricultural development.

Anne Hastings, Principal of Emanuel School, who accompanied the first group of students to Timor Leste in 2015 commented: “The opportunity to meet East Timorese people and make real and true connections with them is a significant highlight for the students. While being confronted by the reality of the country’s brutal recent history, they returned with a deep appreciation of the people and their communities, and greater understanding of the political, social and cultural issues facing the country. I know that the lessons learnt cannot be done so in a classroom but are a vital part of an all-round education. The relationships our students formed with the children from Gildapil will provide long-term memories that will remain with them forever.

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