Ukrainian Immigrants Visit Santa Maria

Moving to a new country has many challenges, but when your first language is not English, it creates many more obstacles.

The Year 9 O’Reilly Homeroom hosted a group of Ukrainian immigrants for their Strive9 Project.

Teacher Rosa Speranza first floated the idea with the girls’ Homeroom teacher Faith Lee. Faith suggested the idea to the girls, who jumped at the chance to work on a topic so current and relevant. The girls were put in touch with a contact who could help them reach out to the group.

“I was really impressed with how they came up with ideas and got themselves organised, breaking up into small groups and keeping track of what had been done. They adapted the plans as things changed and were tenacious in following things up if they decided it was important to keep them.” Said Faith.

On Implementation Day, students ran cooking and art sessions with their guests. Originally the students had planned for four sessions, card games, cooking ANZAC biscuits, language activities (including about the Anzac history and the Rainbow Serpent) and art (bracelet making and painting). As they ran out of time, the girls had to adapt their plan on the fly and really rose to the challenge. “I was especially proud of the groups who had prepared activities but didn’t get to run them. They accepted the fact they couldn’t do what they had spent so long planning for with such grace.” Said Faith.

The girls had an amazing experience. Shy at first, it wasn’t long before the conversation started to flow, and the girls behaved more naturally. Our visitors shared their stories about how they came to be in Australia. The girls were really impacted by their stories.  

The guests thoroughly enjoyed the day, especially the school tour. They even asked Deputy Head girl, Alicia Tory, for a photo of her with all her badges. One group made bracelets for their grandchildren, and another chose to do some painting. It was nice the girls gave them options. When the Ukrainians saw the ingredients for the ANZAC biscuits had been written in English and Ukrainian, they were touched by the gesture.

The girls produced a booklet with some language skills for their guests to take home with them at the end of the day.

“I was so impressed with how they put themselves out there and took risks. They had Domino’s donate 30 pizzas for lunch! They emailed people they didn’t know, made phone calls to ask for donations, and asked for donations in person. All things which aren’t easy to do. They pulled everything together on the day and adapted to things as events changed. I was so proud of everything they did!” said Faith.

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