A Cultural Experience Through Mercy Service
For the past ten years, Sister Breda O’Reilly has been teaching English to refugees and asylum seekers at the Edmund Rice Centre in Mirrabooka, at a pre-intermediate level and now at an intermediate level. Because they were studying Australia this month, Sister Breda decided to teach them a little about poets and poetry.
“I realise some people couldn’t understand this approach, but I went ahead with it anyway. They loved the poem ‘My Country’ by Dorothea Mackellar. It was such a joy watching them read the poem with such delight. They were so good that I called Brother Jim in to come and listen to them. I watched them closely, and I couldn’t believe how much they enjoyed reading My Country. I think Brother Jim was impressed too! They even enjoyed the comprehension and grammar activities that went with the poem.”
At the end of the class, Sister Breda suggested they might try to find out about a poet from their own culture.
“As I was packing up and ready to leave, Wandee from Thailand said, ‘teacher, will you also bring a poem written by a person in your country?’ I said, yes, of course. So, the following little poem tells you what happened next.”