Two University of Newcastle students who come from a refugee background shared their personal experiences and journeys this month with a group of Year 5 and 6 students from Kurri Kurri Public School.
Social work student Kwabo Batende shared his story of fleeing the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he worked as a high school headmaster, after defending his students from rebels. He barely managed to survive the ordeal and travelled to a refugee camp in Uganda where he was united with his family, before eventually being accepted for resettlement in Australia.
Ten years ago Iglal Kodi was forced to leave Sudan due to conflict between religious groups. Iglal, her grandmother and uncle travelled to a refugee camp in Egypt where they lived for a long time before being resettled in Australia. Iglal is now studying to become a history teacher.
The students’ visit was organised as part of the University’s AIM High program. One of the strengths of the program’s tailored approach is the capacity to respond to the priorities and interests of each of their targeted schools.
The primary school students are working on a unit on Refugees and Migration as part of their HSIE (Human Society and Its Environment) curriculum, reading the novel Mahtab’s Story by Libby Gleeson. Meeting Kwabo and Iglal, and hearing the firsthand accounts of their experiences, allowed the students to relate these stories directly to what they were learning in class.