Posted by Pearl Bartlett
on 25 May 2021
My name is Pearl Bartlett from Chichester, England. I was a Lasallian Volunteer in Balgo Hills, Western Australia, for 11 months. I had previously volunteered at St Cassian's Centre Kintbury UK for two years; I decided to continue my Lasallian service and experience a whole new and exciting culture in Balgo, which was an opportunity I will never forget.
My primary role was teaching assistant at Luurnpa Catholic School, helping students with Maths, English, Art, and many other subjects. I also helped in the Mangarri (food) room, serving students breakfast and lunch and helped with the upkeep of the school grounds by mowing lawns and cleaning. The staff at Luurnpa School were so helpful and encouraging. They all have a passion for helping the students learn, which was such an inspiration to see.
I also had the opportunity to work within the local community by helping at Warlayirti Art Centre and the Kapululango Aboriginal Women's Law and Culture Centre. All the artists and elders were happy to tell me their stories and taught me so much, including the local language Kukatja, which was an important part of immersing myself within their culture.
It isn't easy to pinpoint my favourite part of my year as a Lasallian Volunteer because I was lucky enough to experience so much. I loved working in the school and helping the students with their learning and just chatting and having a yarn with them, learning about their lives and stories. I also enjoyed the time when I played AFL football with the community; even though it was in the scorching heat, I enjoyed everyone's company and the opportunity to meet new people. I had never played AFL before (which was very obvious), but the encouragement everyone gave each other to get involved was immense.
I have learnt so many new life skills. Excursions in the outback with the students, collecting bush tucker, was such a memorable experience and something I shall never forget, as well as seeing the most stunning scenery (the stars at night in the outback are something to behold).
I would encourage anyone thinking about becoming a Lasallian Volunteer in Balgo to apply! No matter how far away you live or who you are, if you have a strong passion for helping others, do it!
Take a chance, try something different and step out of your comfort zone; you never know what you may find. My experience from the Lasallian Volunteer program has opened so many pathways for my future.