Cultural Exchange Program

BHIEC / Menai High School 2006
Michael Harmey


Ambassadors of Diversity

 Newspaper articles Menai (PDF)

Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre
Michael Harmey, Head Teacher

Menai High School Menai High School

Robert Lindsay, Deputy Principal

Dimensions: Inter-school Programs, Human Rights, Cultural Awareness, Cultural Exchange

Focusing on the Similarities

In responding to the racial unrest in Sutherland Shire at the end of 2005 students from Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre (IEC) came together with students from Menai High School under the Schools Cultural Exchange Program. This cross-sectoral program aims to encourage community harmony by bringing together students from different cultural, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds.

Initially students from Beverly Hills IEC visited Menai High School to share stories and personal experiences through games and drama role play. In a subsequent visit by Menai High School to Beverly Hills IEC the students acted out alternative scenarios to the violence at Cronulla to illustrate how conflict could be managed.

The students learned a lot about each other and investigated the role media plays in shaping public opinion. Long-term friendships were formed with some of the students exchanging emails and becoming pen-pals.

The program is ongoing and further activities are planned. These include the Aussie Bush Experience, a bush walk and a visit to the Symbio native animal zoo, a multicultural concert and food day, and a 'cultural sensitivity' day in which the entire Menai High Year 7 will work through a series of jointly designed workshops. Future plans include Cooling Conflicts training for all students.

Michael Harmey, Head Teacher of Beverly Hills IEC, said the program has taught its participants to redirect the focus away from judging others. 'All of us are different', Mr Harmey said. 'We're focusing on the similarities, not the differences, and these are the things that bind us together as Australians'.

"A CULTURAL exchange program is breaking down barriers between two south-western Sydney high schools.
Bonds have been built between students at Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre and Menai High School through a project designed to foster improved cultural relations in the community through its youth

"NSW Premier Morris Iemma dropped into the Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre on Monday to observe as students from both schools . . . "

"YOUNG Aussies – home-grown and newly arrived – are about to gain a very real understanding of each other’s experiences in a new cultural exchange program.
Students from the Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre and Menai and Kingscliff high schools will visit each other before the centre’s students enjoy a short stay with Menai and Kingscliff student’s families."

"It was a day for new experiences when 15 Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre students visited Menai High School last Tuesday."

Haja Kamara and Hajer Hussen from BHIEC with Menai High School Student, Teneille.


Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre