At De La Salle Catholic College Caringbah, we are proudly Lasallian and aim to develop the whole person. John Baptist de La Salle once stated that, "Remembering that God is with you will help and inspire you in all that you do." This year our college participated in its first immersion experience to Cape York, along with students from Our Lady of Mercy College, Burraneer. In 2020, we will be offering three different immersions, hence this year was the start of a new journey for our college. Our students returned inspired from the experience, and these words from Finlay Lynch (Year 10) encapsulates these feelings of awe, service and generosity...
In August, I was given the opportunity to take a trip which truly changed my life. Eighteen students from De La Salle and nine from OLMC, accompanied by Mr Devlin, Mr Musumeci, Mrs Ross and Mrs Waterhouse (from OLMC) journeyed to Cape York to spend time in remote Aboriginal communities.
In an effort to discover more about Aboriginal culture, lifestyles and the hardships faced over their lives since European settlement, we spent time in Jajikal and Battle camps which allowed students to connect with traditional owners and the people who share a connection with the homelands.
These experiences granted us the chance to connect with people and lives so foreign from our own. We discussed issues that face the Aboriginals still to this day and the effects of eras of Australian legislation, such as the Integration, Assimilation and Protection policies. These conversations allowed us to grow in knowledge and compassion as we were given first-hand accounts of situations and stories that we couldn't previously connect a face or a family to. The stories of discrimination and racism faced became tangible to students whom may have never felt the weight of these real-life issues.
The members of the community shared their culture with us through experiences such as the welcome to country ceremonies, spear making, basket weaving, musselling, fishing, cooking, painting and searching for bush hen eggs. All of us gained a respect for the way of life led by the Aboriginal people and the reasoning behind their lives. The connection to country stood out to me. Their connection to land was built from ancestral links and the gifts the land is able to bring to the indigenous people. An aspect that surprised me was the connections we were able to make with community members over such a short amount of time, just by sharing stories. Our experiences on immersion of talking and sharing reminded us of the importance of sharing our own perspectives and listening to others. This displayed the lack of this in our own lives in a digital age.
While in Cape York we were able to connect on issues that face us all and look beyond barriers such as age, race and religion. These issues include climate change, family problems, substance abuse and finding the true meaning in life. One instance of this was the discussion on the effects of climate change on remote Australia and those who live of natural processes. The Walker sisters explained how climate change had disturbed seasonal growth of native Australian plants and the changes in flooding that had occurred in Wujal Wujal. During the course of our trip we experienced the hospitality of the communities as we were welcomed with open arms and gratitude for us entering their homelands.
Our last two days were spent in Port Douglas where the group went to the Great Barrier Reef. This particular reef has some of the most beautiful coral and marine life in the world that we were able to see first-hand.
During the last two days, the group reflected on the experiences we had all shared and been changed by on our trip. All in all, this trip was extremely worthwhile and for me a once in a lifetime opportunity that I'm so happy I took the chance to do at an important point in my life. I know truly that I'll remember this trip for the rest of my life and how thankful I am that I was able to attend this.
(Reflection by Finlay Lynch (DLS Caringbah - Year 10)