Cultural differences bring school community together

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One of the most important events in St Joseph the Worker’s school calendar is its annual Multicultural Day. Photo: Supplied
One of the most important events in St Joseph the Worker’s school calendar is its annual Multicultural Day. Photo: Supplied

St Joseph the Worker Catholic Primary School Auburn South is leading the way in cultural diversity with its students hailing from 32 different nationalities, with 99 of them speaking a language other than English at home.

It’s a level of cultural diversity that would be impressive in any organisation, let alone in a primary school with just over 100 students.

According to Principal Gai Melville, multiculturalism is something that has always been part of the fabric of the school.

“I think one of the things we like to do is just acknowledge that our families have travelled from distant lands to live in this country as one community,” she said.

“… it helps them develop that respect for other people and to see others as valuable contributors to our culture and society.”

“What people often say is you can feel the warmth in the welcome here; that it feels like a family.

“We all belong and we all bring different gifts and different abilities to the community, and together it makes us richer and stronger.”

One of the most important events in St Joseph the Worker’s school calendar is its annual Multicultural Day.

Traditionally held on a single day, this year’s week-long celebration was held in the first week back after COVID lockdown.

2021 Multicultural Day Committee Head, Markian Stefanychyn said seeing all the colours and different cultural dresses made the students so proud and embrace their own cultural backgrounds. Photo: Supplied
2021 Multicultural Day Committee Head, Markian Stefanychyn said seeing all the colours and different cultural dresses made the students so proud and embrace their own cultural backgrounds. Photo: Supplied

It began with a multicultural prayer service. Students then took part in a range of activities, including sampling Ukrainian dancing, Italian music, French art and Ghanian crafts, among other things.

“It was a great chance for the school’s diversity to really come alive,” said teacher and head of the 2021 Multicultural Day Committee, Markian Stefanychyn.

She said seeing all the colours and different cultural dresses made the students so proud to embrace their own cultural backgrounds.

Mrs Melville agreed and said events such as these play a major part in the feeling of togetherness at St Joseph the Worker.

“We all belong and we all bring different gifts and different abilities to the community, and together it makes us richer and stronger.”

“When we have our annual Multicultural Day, we see the children often asking to join in and be part of cultural activities that aren’t of their own background – it helps them develop that respect for other people and to see others as valuable contributors to our culture and society,” she said.

“I think it becomes part of their worldview and a part of their view of what it is to be an Australian, especially in Sydney today.

“I hope we continue to embrace and celebrate the diversity in this community because I think it really is reflective of what modern Sydney is going to be.

“The world these children will go out into and contribute to will hopefully be a better place because of their experience here.

“I know it’s made me a much better teacher and principal working in this rich community.”