The Kalamunda Timor-Leste immersion experience opened our eyes to many aspects of life that exist and differ within both the Australian and Timorese cultures.
In a country as rich in education as Australia we can become deluded into thinking that education is a given right provided to all human beings. Sadly, this is not the case. It is easy enough to read such a fact in a book or on the internet but to be confronted with such a thing is a different story. Visiting Timor-Leste and the incredible people that call it home not only enabled us to help out but also reflect on just how lucky we are. Not only do we take simple aspects of education for granted such as paper and pens but also the priority that learning takes within our society.
Teaching English in schools in Timor-Leste and seeing the excitement, eagerness and willingness to learn in the children’s eyes gave me a true appreciation for what we have back home and an appreciation for how much potential Timor-Leste has if it can nurture these children and their amazing minds. The limited education provided for the Timorese children can sadly often come at a price; monetary and in terms of labour on their families properties. Despite this, their ability to pick up songs, dances and English is overwhelming to say the least. It is hard to leave knowing that they may never fulfil their true potential due to the restrictions of education in Timor-Leste. However, where education in Timor-Leste may lack, learnt and passed on life skills flourish. The children have imaginations that far outstretch the children of our society. While they may not have much, the pride, humour and love of life that theTimorese children and people do possess exemplifies the culture that they live in; one based around tradition, religion and hard work. The happiness exhibited by the people demonstrates the simplicity of the lives they lead and the importance that revolves around family and friends rather than material objects.
All Australians could learn a thing or two from the Timorese people. What we taught them in terms of English they taught us in life lessons, forming a connection that will always exist across the seas.