As you enter our school property through the front gates there are two walls that flank either side of the driveway. On one wall is the word “Welcome” and on the opposite side is “Naatanwark” which has the same meaning in the local indigenous language. Certainly as I walk through the school yard and corridors I feel this welcome from staff and students.
Over the summer holidays I had an example of welcome extended to me as I visited our sister schools in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. I was privileged to spend a week immersed in the diverse Javanese culture of these schools and experience many innovative ways in which teaching and learning happens in this educational hub of Indonesia. On one of my days at Olifant School (one of our sister schools), I sat in on an assembly where students were recognised for their effort and academic achievements from the previous year. The sheer joy that students had for one another as their peers were called forward was fantastic to witness. I was privileged to share in the same experience when on a Warrnambool College year 8 camp recently. Students were given recognition for their demonstration of our school values (persistence, resilience and mutual respect) and congratulated each other throughout. It is this sort of building up of one another that we intentionally foster at Warrnambool College – a feeling of support and celebration for the good work we achieve together.
Whilst overseas I was once again reminded that my linguistic ability beyond English is very compromised; a failing of mine that I am constantly asking our students to learn from (don’t give up your LOTE subject at the end of year 8 like I did!). I’ve been to enough countries to know that the two most important words to learn in the local dialect are ‘hello’ and ‘thankyou’. Whilst in Indonesia ‘selamat pagi’ and ‘terima kasih’ became the staple of my linguistic diet. Most languages have a response to thankyou – in Indonesian it is ‘sama sama’. It was always spoken with such reverence and kindness, with the implication that somehow you were being mutually thanked for saying thankyou in the first place.
In English of course we respond with “you’re welcome”. Which brings me back to the start of this reflection. Whether it comes after a “thankyou”, or whether it is just the vibe you get when you enter into our school community, I hope you too feel that “you’re welcome” to share in the many learning experiences that happen in our school. We look forward to welcoming you into our school to share in the many challenges, joys, achievements and adventures that secondary schooling brings.
WARRNAMBOOL COLLEGE PRINCIPAL