On Wednesday May 16th, 2012 the Schools for Timor network was launched at the ACU Central Hall in Melbourne. We were very happy to have Richard Brown, who has had a long involvement with East Timor and the Australian friendship groups, officially launch the network. The aim of this network is to link Australian schools that have friendship/ partnership programs or activities related to Timor Leste with each other, and also with schools that would like to plan and develop such programs. This network is optional for schools to join. Those managing the network do not make decisions for or speak on behalf of these schools in any way.
Around 70 teachers, students, and other interested people from 17 schools across Victoria (and one from Brisbane!) attended the event. We heard from different speakers about some current projects which may be of interest to Australian schools.
Lyn Jenkin from With One Seed discussed the project, which is dedicated to improving the resilience of rural communities in Timor Leste by addressing sustainability issues.
The project is developing cooperative school-based educational programs with local educators in Victoria and Timor Leste, with a focus on environmental science and agroforestry education. It has also established a Computer Emissions Fund that provides opportunities for Australian schools to offset the greenhouse gas emissions from their computer use, while supporting community development in Timor Leste. Go to www.carbonxchange.net.au for more information.
The new Timor Projects website was discussed. It is now live at timorprojects.org. This website will enable groups to share information about the projects that they are currently running in East Timor. People will be able to search through this information by region, by category (health, education etc), by project name, or by organization name. This website is a collaboration between Timorlink and With One Seed. If you would like more information on how to submit details of your organization and its work in Timor, email [email protected]
Timothy Thomaidis, a year 11 student from Padua College in Mornington, discussed the joint Tetun film project which was produced by Padua College, ETSA (East Timor Students Association) in Melbourne, and Timorlink. The short Tetun film was created by students, and is a gift for other schools and students that want to learn some Tetun or some English. Antoninho Bernardino directed this film. It can be viewed at here
Sue Worcester discussed a series of books that she has created for kids in East Timor. These books are graded into levels. There are currently level 1 and 2 books available, with levels 3-11 on the way. There are currently templates for 12 graded readers (level 1 and 2) available to download from http://www.scribd.com/livrutimor
People wishing to use these books can insert the text from Tetun or Fataluku, or alternatively translate and insert text from any other language if this is more appropriate.
The last part of the launch was led by Michael Harrison, a teacher at Padua College. For the last part of the session we thought it would be great to share the wisdom of experience and perspective in the hall, so we broke into small groups. Student groups were created from different schools and spent a productive half-hour sharing their thoughts on the Timor Leste partnerships they have in their schools and/or any immersion activities planned or experienced. In the meantime the school staff and others from community organisations also talked through similar issues in small groups and did the usual networking that happens on such occasions! The groups then came back together to ask questions and discuss key ideas.
We were all thankful and inspired by the extent of the community and school networks already in place, and agreed it will be very beneficial to work together to gather the information from these networks into one shared place for all to see. It was a fantastic afternoon with many more blessings to come as we continue to share our wisdom and experiences with each other.
A schools network mailing list has been set up. If you or your school would like to join this mailing list, simply send a blank email to [email protected] and you will be subscribed to the mailing list.