Home' Focus : Focus Magazine Summer 2014 Contents Sometimes individuals among us have an experience that truly
breaks through that ‘white noise’ of incessant advertising, social
media and materialism, and strikes at the heart of what matters most,
relegating our personal material needs to the back of the queue.
During the third term holidays, three groups of Scotch
Oakburn students went to three different parts of the world
and saw for themselves what life is like for an unfortunately
large proportion of the world’s population, for whom receiving
a basic education is a struggle on a daily basis.
A Year 9 group attended the International Round Square
conference in Jordan; a Year 10 group visited and supported
a fellow Round Square school, the Tiger Kloof School, in
South Africa; and a Year 11 and 12 group continued our
relationship with the Maliana community in Timor-Leste.
Collectively, their experiences in forming new friendships,
performing community service work in truly underprivileged
communities and viewing the world through the eyes of
those who have so very little has changed these Scotch
Oakburn students’ view of themselves and their world.
The communities that our students visited are under resourced,
both financially and physically, yet they do the best they can
to raise the level of education of their youth to that which is
beyond those who have gone before them; however, it is still
sub-standard by our expectations. After hearing feedback from
each of the three groups, I know that all of these students have
gained a new perspective on many things in their daily lives that
they had taken for granted, but most obviously, on education.
Having had a similar experience myself in Nepal (where I have
taken school groups in the past) I know exactly how our young
people are feeling – humbled, grateful and perhaps a little sad. I also
know that to genuinely make a difference to the lives of the people
our students have met, we need to ‘help them to help themselves’;
we need to, over time, make our assistance redundant and the best
way to do that is through education. A one-off engagement with
a less-fortunate community makes us feel good about ourselves,
but it doesn’t necessarily lead to a sustained improvement in the
quality of life for an individual or a community. That’s why we have
to rethink our concept of philanthropy and service education.
Teachers Andrew French and Sam Watkins led the Timor-Leste
trip this year and this on-going relationship is now moving to a
phase where Scotch Oakburn and the Maliana community have
set a strategic focus for a project where we can work together to
help make that community self-sufficient through the repair and
refurbishment of a derelict building to become an English language
centre. This is something that the community desperately want and
so, rather than walk in and tell them what we can do or what we
have for them, we have listened and will support the community’s
efforts to help make their dreams become reality. The success of
this endeavour will require repeat input from Scotch Oakburn but
it is such a worthwhile project that we must make it a reality.
We don’t always need to travel to distant lands to have meaningful
experiences like those mentioned above. Closer to home we have
seen some wonderful examples of how motivated people can help
change the lives of our neighbours. As I write this article, half of
our Year 9 students are out on Community Service, while earlier
in the year the IY8 projects saw Hanlon fundraise to purchase a
keyboard for a local primary school, Lucy ride to Bridport for diabetes
awareness, Lachie raise funds to save the cheetah and Liam build
and auction a sustainable chicken-coop to raise funds for St Giles,
to name but a few. Then there were the Houses who fundraised for
charities, such as Fox who donated to the Red Cross and Dean to
St Giles. On a whole-College scale, we saw all students help raise
funds for the Save the Tassie Devil appeal. The efforts of our students
to give back to their community, whether that be at a local, state or
international level, are highly commendable but these efforts also
help to keep our students grounded in a world that has the potential
to drag their attention away from the things that matter most.
Our students are privileged with the best of education and this is
never more apparent than when compared to a third-world country;
however, education is one of those things that truly ‘matters most’.
I will always encourage our students to show their appreciation by
grasping, with both hands, every wonderful opportunity presented to
them – and that includes improving the lot of those less fortunate.
Principal, Scotch Oakburn College
What matters most
FOCUS | SUMMER 2014 | 3
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