Hearts Open in Kiribati
On 1st April 20 students with 5 staff members departed for Kiribati. During this three week immersion program, held annually, students and staff spend time at our sister school – Chevalier College Abemama. The trip is physically and mentally challenging but the rewards are immeasurable. Overall, it was an amazing experience. We look forward to sharing more from our journeys with you in the 2015 Year Book report. For now, please enjoy this beautiful reflection written by Bridget Shirlow.
Assistant Principal – Faith Formation, Mission and Religious Education
This year’s Kiribati mission experience is one that has touched and opened the hearts of those who participated. For three weeks we were immersed into a culture vastly different in comparison to ours, and astounding in various ways. We became a close group who got to grow and learn from each other and the Kiribati people.
I never comprehended that people who live such challenging, poverty-stricken lives could be so content and rich in faith and heart. We were loved and welcomed to an incredible extent by strangers in such a short period of time. We experienced a generous compassion which I cannot convey adequately. Whether you were walking down the street, or walking to visit your class mates, the greeting ‘Mauri’ was always heard and a contagious smile would light up upon their faces and would make you feel so special. It was as if they could see into you and were appreciating you for who you were. They are not judgemental people and I felt that this exposure to such welcoming personalities allowed many of us to become more confident and open.
The Kiribati people go above and beyond to make you feel included, and after our short time together I felt that I truly belonged with them. They taught us their ways of life such as dancing, singing, weaving and playing games, and the knowledge and fond memories we have all gained with these people will be deeply cherished.
During our time we participated in a reading program for the Kiribati kids. It was immensely rewarding to watch them improve and learn English from us. I felt that helping them to see a brighter future was the most important gift we could leave them with.
It was lovely to see where our fundraising for Kiribati goes, and really uplifting to see the enormous impact that it has on the people. That being said, there are still numerous areas that need improvement and our group is looking forward to finding more ways to help out. Experiencing Chevalier College Abemama for two weeks made me feel strongly connected to our sister school and taught me that, despite our distance and circumstances, we are the same MSC people at heart.
As Maddy was quoted in an earlier ‘postcard’, our trip was a ‘positive struggle’ in that we were faced with some challenges along the way, yet the outcome became such a constructive life lesson as we were given the opportunity to see the world in a different way. I think we have all gained a deep appreciation for the life we have with our families, friends and education; we’ve gained knowledge about important global issues; and we have formed connections and memories with beautiful people, who have displayed qualities I aspire to have.