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
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
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'.