Diversity, inclusivity, respect and a sense of belonging.
These four things are the pillars for Harmony Week (15 to 21 March) – a national event that celebrates Australia’s multiculturalism. For San Clemente High School at Mayfield, it is a very important week on the calendar.
As one of the most culturally diverse schools in the Hunter, staff and students do all they can to honour its population.
Tanatswa Mureverwi, a Year 8 student who moved to Australia from Zimbabwe when she was just 12 months old, says Harmony Week is important because it brings people together.
“Harmony, for me, is about coming together as one and being able to share our thoughts and feelings from our culture and there is no discrimination – everyone is included,” she said.
“My family came to Australia because there were a lot of bad things happening in Zimbabwe, so we came here for a better education and more opportunities and I love it. “Australia has a unique personality and is a very diverse country.”
Fellow student Rahaf Allawi, who moved here in 2012 to escape the Syrian war, agreed.
“Australia is great at getting together and including other countries,” she said. She adds it is nice to learn about “places all around the world in the one country”.
Year 10 student Rhett Snedden said going to San Clemente meant he learnt about other cultures.
“It’s a very inclusive school and I’ve realised that people aren’t forced to hide their heritage here, it is very celebrated, and it is very talked about,” Rhett explained.
For fellow student Ranier Tanudra, Australia has proven to be a haven of opportunities since his family moved from the Philippines.
They arrived in Australia in 2012 in a bid to access a better education.
“It’s had a big impact on my life moving here,” he said.
“I love this country because everyone is welcome – Australia is a unique country, and we are known for our different cultures. “[The country] was built by different nationalities and we just need to respect each other’s cultures and differences.
“That’s why Harmony is a very important thing in Australia to celebrate.”
Go to harmony.gov.au for more information about Harmony Week.