International view from cultural links STUDENTS at Balcombe Grammar School will gain an international perspective when they host an Australia-Indonesia Muslim exchange program on Wednesday (9 March) and 13 April. The visit by some of Indonesia’s brightest emerging leaders aims to improve cultural and educational exchanges – and bring on a few selfies – among students in years 7 and 10. Principal Matthew Dodd is all for forging community collaborations and learning opportunities beyond the school’s grounds. “We embrace programs like the Muslim exchange program because of the mutual learning that is ignited by face to face, cross-cultural interactions,” he said. The visit is backed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Australia-Indonesia Institute, which aims to foster people-to-people links between Indonesia and Australia through two week cultural and intellectual exchanges. Co-ordinator Brynna RaffertyBrown has worked with delegates since 2004. “The program selects from a growing number of young leaders involved at grassroots level in the community,” she said. “For many Indonesian Muslim community leaders, this is their first and sometimes only opportunity to participate in an overseas program.”
As a participant in 2006, she understands the depth of connections the program cultivates. “A Pakistani friend who joined me on the exchange saw a performance of the Hindu epic Ramayana in Pramabanan, an ancient Hindu temple in Yogyakarta, performed by Muslim dancers,” she said. “Coming from a place of some tension between Hinduism and Islam, he came away incredibly inspired about the power of communities coming together. He still talks about it today.” The students have prepared questions for this year’s delegates. Their focus is on learning more about education and culture in Indonesia’s Muslim community, and exploring shared points of connection. “Exchanging ideas with two or three passionate, smart, well-spoken young Muslim women who happen to wear headscarfs really helps shatter any perceived barriers,” Ms RaffertyBrown said. Balcombe’s head of Faith and Wellbeing, Natalie Kurelja, said she welcomed the link with the school’s interfaith studies and experiential learning events. Reflecting on last year’s visit, she said: “There was a lot of laughter and heaps of selfies. It was just beautiful. It was like we’d all been friends for years.”
Glittering goal: Sarah Wooding, right, with her cousin and Miss Western Port 2015, Mikaela Fowler.
Quest for title that’s out of this world SARAH Wooding is representing Mornington in the Miss Teen Galaxy Australia contest – and she is the only Victorian representative chasing the title. The Mornington Secondary College year 10 student, 15, is studying science and hoping it will lead into medical science and gene research. Modelling with Bettina Modelling Agency since she was 13, Sarah has
also done various catalogues, film shoots, billboards and even appeared as an extra in the film Emo the Musical, to screen next year. “Miss Teen Galaxy will be by far Sarah’s biggest journey,” mum Fiona Wooding said last week. “The national finals are in April on the Gold Coast, and the winner will travel to Orlando, Florida, to compete at an international level.
“Sarah has been fundraising for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and a high tea in January helped her raise $1300 for this wonderful charity. “She’s hoping to be guest-of-honour at McDonald’s McHappy day this week.” Her sponsors are Bowman and Company Real Estate, and Hartford’s Hairdressing, Mornington.
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Mornington News 8 March 2016