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Multiculturalism in action

Ellen Kirkpatrick is a current GLP student. During the summer she participated in a PACE project where she travelled to the Phillippines to work with Bahay Tuluyan, a childrens’ rights organisation. She wanted to participate in the Auburn Cultural Series to gain a better understanding of different cultures and how refugees living there are able to maintain their cultural values despite living in another country. Read on to find out her experiences there…

Yesterday, a group of students, including me, made our way to Auburn for the GLP Sydney Cultural Series. What was meant to be a rainy day ended up being a beautiful warm autumn day which made the trip a whole lot more enjoyable. After a chance to get to know one another in the morning we headed to Auburn City Council to learn more about the area itself. We heard about the unique history of Auburn and how it has developed into a culturally rich and diverse area. The city welcomes refugees and there are now over 126 cultures living alongside one another in relative harmony. We also got some insight into the troubles that Auburn city faces in regards to access to services and other related demographic issues. For instance, the fact there is only one public high school, which is also girls-only, for Auburn’s 80 000 people astounded us all, especially as youth make up one of the largest groups. The city’s population is increasing dramatically with more and more families coming to the area and there is an obvious demand for greater access to necessary services.

After the council briefing, we were able to relax for a little while as we visited the Auburn botanic gardens – a hidden treasure of the city. The Japanese garden was pretty spectacular, although, we were all a little surprised by the unusual coloured water and the bearded man (possibly from a popular TV gardening show) followed by a camera crew wandering around the gardens. Then it was time for lunch, which we were all incredibly excited for and our expectations were certainly fulfilled. Jasmine 1 has amazing Lebanese food and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who goes to Auburn. Not a single bit of food was left, with some people packing whatever was leftover into containers to take home.

A highlight of the day was definitely the visit to the Gallipoli Mosque after lunch. We were able to fully appreciate the beautiful architecture and design of the Mosque as well as its intricately painted interior. We had an enthusiastic tour guide who was happy to talk to us about what Islam meant to him and the important value of the Gallipoli Mosque in the Auburn community. It was a great learning experience and I think I speak on behalf of all of us when I say I feel more informed about Islam after visiting the Mosque.

At the Mosque with our tour guide Randolf

We finished off the day with an Amazing Race around quite a large area of Auburn city. Some groups found this challenging but we all did pretty well, answering most of the questions correctly. Congratulations to the team who won (my own team), as well as to the team who came second – that final sprint to the finish line was pretty impressive.

All in all, the GLP trip to Auburn was very enjoyable and I encourage students to attend the Auburn or Cabramatta Cultural Series. It was a very interesting day and I feel a lot more informed about cultures I previously had no real idea about. In terms of being global leaders, we need to understand variances in cultures and accept that we are all different but just as valuable as one another. One of the underlying things we agreed upon at the end of the day as a group of GLP students was that no matter how different we are as people we can always cooperate with each other and make it work. I believe the trip to Auburn helped us recognise this.

We really wanted a group shot at The Botanic Gardens!

Photos taken by GLP staff members and Emma Dillon

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