Papuan students experience WA’s wheatbelt

Eleven students who took part in the Australian Papuan Cultural Exchange Program, hosted at All Saints Floreat Uniting Church, took a weekend away from their studies to travel up to the northern wheatbelt town of Coorow in March and experience some of Australia’s rural lifestyle. The program hosts students from West Papua in Perth while they build up their English skills.

Inez Davies, a member of Coorow All Saints Uniting Church, learnt about the program whilst attending a Summer Spirit event years ago in Perth. The Coorow congregation, a joint Anglican and  Uniting Church, have followed its progress and offered support – this year by hosting the group in their home town for some time out from their busy schedule. The students arrived for  lunch on Saturday 29 March at Inez’s farm, followed by a drive around the property to see some of their crops. Dinner was provided in town by the congregation before an evening of music and  joy.

“We were all just sitting around talking and they all burst into song,” said Inez. “My son took his guitar and he yodelled for them and they were absolutely ecstatic.”

The next morning, the Papuan students put their English skills to the test as they took part in their local church service for Palm Sunday.

“They did all the readings,” said Inez. “It was a great joy for us because they were so enthusiastic, they were lovely. We were just overwhelmed that they speak English and Indonesian and their own language.”

Following lunch, the guests spent time at another property in Coorow, which farms sheep. Vastly different from the landscapes back home, the students were amazed at the wide open spaces  and huge farm machinery.

“To them, it was just so different to their land,” said Inez. “They have such a down to earth faith and we just loved having them and learning about where they come from and what they do.”

For more information on the Australian Papuan Cultural Exchange Program visit https://revivemagazine.org.au/2015/06/09/english-classes-for-more-opportunity/.

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