A Transformative Journey to Punmu

In its 17th year, the Punmu Immersion Program continues to be a cornerstone of Santa Maria College’s commitment to service and community engagement. This year, twelve Year 12 students and three dedicated staff members embarked on an inspiring journey that began with a 650km flight to Port Hedland and a 583km drive across the Great Sandy Desert to the remote community of Punmu.

A Tradition of Service and Learning

Established in 2007, the Punmu Immersion Program is more than a school trip; it is a life-changing experience that leaves a lasting impact on both students and staff. The program, held in Week 10 this year, aims to foster cultural understanding, community service, and personal growth. The reflections from our students and staff highlight the profound and transformative nature of this journey.

Pre-Trip Preparations: Setting the Stage for Impact

Olivia and Ava emphasised the importance of preparation to ensure a memorable time in Punmu. Together, Grace and the Liturgy team created twelve educational packs for the students at Rawa Community School. These packs, filled with activities like reading, writing, and colouring, were a hit among the children. Additionally, Ava donated footballs for after-school sports, and the group held a bake sale to raise funds for paints, food, and school materials. These thoughtful initiatives supported the community and enriched the students’ experience.

Immersing in Martu Culture

Grace shared her gratitude for the opportunity to immerse herself in the culture of the Martu people. The community members of Punmu and Kunawarritji warmly welcomed the group, sharing their rich cultural heritage. The balance between service activities and leisure, including sports, made the trip fulfilling and impactful. Grace reflected on how each day brought new experiences that broadened her understanding of a different culture.

Hands-On Learning and Cultural Exchange

Lana and Annie recounted their participation in various activities, such as painting the basketball court, assisting teachers, and engaging in Martu cultural traditions. They tasted kangaroo tail and witchetty grubs, toured local landmarks with Punmu high school students, and learned Martu words and customs. These activities deepened their connection to the community and the land, creating unforgettable memories.

Community Projects and Culinary Adventures

Molly and Isabel highlighted their work on several projects at the Rawa School, including gardening to enhance outdoor learning spaces and cooking over 70 pizzas for the community. These efforts not only improved the school’s environment but also fostered a sense of unity and joy among the students and residents.

Building Connections and Cherising Moments

Ava and Matilda found the Punmu Immersion Program to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience cherished for the rest of their lives. The kids’ joy and excitement upon their arrival and sadness when they left underscored the profound impact they had. Listening to the elders’ stories about their past and cultural beliefs was particularly rewarding, as it highlighted the comfort and trust the community felt in sharing their sacred lands and traditions.

Kahla and Myah shared memorable moments of bonding with the children, especially with a shy boy named Ezaias. Kahla recounted how his initial reserve gave way to joyful laughter as they played, culminating in a heartwarming connection that made saying goodbye difficult. The welcoming spirit of the children at both Punmu and Kunawarritji, who eagerly invited the visitors to play and engaged with them warmly, left a lasting impression on Myah. The sense of being immediately embraced by the children created an unforgettable and deeply emotional experience.

Reflections on a Rewarding Journey

Jessie described Punmu as a perfect blend of learning, community service, and fun. She found it rewarding to see the children’s joy and to learn new skills like basket weaving and making damper. The rapid bonding with the kids and the warm reception from the community made the experience unforgettable. Jessie expressed her gratitude to Mrs Morris, Mr Francis, and Miss Laurino, the dedicated teachers who made the trip special.

A Teacher’s Perspective: A Testament to Student Dedication

Sarah Morris, the 2024 Punmu Coordinator, praised the students for their remarkable dedication and hard work. The students built meaningful relationships within the community and gained profound insights into Martu culture. The program was an opportunity for the teachers to support Rawa staff, organise community cook-ups, and cherish invaluable experiences that transcended their contributions.

The Punmu Immersion Program remains a transformative journey that empowers our students to embrace leadership, compassion, and cultural appreciation. It reflects our commitment to fostering community spirit, empathy, and lifelong learning. We look forward to many more years of this enriching partnership with Punmu and the Rawa Community school.

Equipping Our Year 10 Students for the Future

Santa Maria College’s Future10 Program empowers Year 10 students with comprehensive guidance for academic and career planning. Through personalised course counselling, resources like the Learn Curriculum Handbook, and interactive events such as the Course Expo, students gain clarity and confidence in their subject choices. The program fosters a collaborative approach involving parents, teachers, and external representatives, ensuring students are well-prepared for their future pathways.

Read More »
the Winter Appeal and Outreach Mass at Santa Maria College.

Term 2 – Empowering Students and Community – Jennifer Oaten

As we conclude another remarkable term at Santa Maria College, we celebrate the myriad achievements and growth of our students. Term 2 was filled with empowering opportunities, from faith-based activities and learning innovations to social awareness projects and community engagements, embodying our Mercy values and commitment to excellence.

Read More »
Scroll to Top