Moving to a country where you don’t speak the language, and the culture is foreign to you, is one of the most significant life events one can experience. That’s why Wodonga Senior Secondary College has partnered with YMCA Howmans Gap Alpine Centre to ensure migrant and refugee students feel happier, healthier and have a place to belong in their community.
On 15 October, the group set out on a hike across the Bogong High Plains to increase their sense of belonging in their new home. The diverse group included students from Nepal, Kenya, the Philippines, The Congo and Uganda.
Led by staff from YMCA Howmans Gap Alpine Centre, the group of 10 students spent two days hiking 10km through some of Victoria’s most spectacular natural environments, carrying packs and sleeping in tents. Along the way the students were able to challenge themselves, grow in confidence and build important friendships in their new home.
Corey Montagnat, 17, the Peer Support Leader from Wodonga Senior Secondary College who attended the hike, has been involved with the program for two years and is passionate about the benefits of creating an inclusive and welcoming school community.
“For some of the students on the program, it’s like they have come here with their eyes blindfolded. When they see that we’re helping them, they really love it because it’s like we’re taking off that blindfold”.
He thinks that having outdoor experiences with YMCA Howmans Gap Alpine Centre is an essential for the success of the Peer Support Program.
“Everyone is out of their comfort zone and comes out of their shells. It’s really good”.
Beatrice Nyandamira, 17, came to Wodonga one month ago from Kenya. She believes that going on the hike was an important part of forming friendships in her new home.
“We get to socialise with different people from different places, so it’s an opportunity for us to get to know each other more”.
Find out more about this program by visiting www.walktowelcome.com.au.