Grace Lutheran College has had an ongoing partnership with two HKBP Indonesian schools ~ HKBP Sidikalang and HKBP Lawe-Sigalagala for many years now.
On Sunday 7th July, 4 staff and 11 students, with bags packed and gifts a plenty, headed through immigration with much excitement and anticipation of what the next 9 days would hold as they flew towards North Sumatra. Many of our students struggled to imagine what they would face, but the result was an experience that they would never forget and has surely been etched on their hearts forever. In their words:
“This tour filled a part of me that I didn’t know was empty.” Josie Mullan, Year 12
“Indonesia is an amazing place filled with people I now consider as some of my best friends.” Jack Radcliffe, Year 12
“The best experience I have ever been a part of! They made such a big impact on my life! Thank you! Isabella Braid, Year 10
“It was an amazing time and the Indonesians welcomed and cared for us like family.” Shayanna Walker, Year 9
Service-Learning by definition is:
“……a way of learning and teaching that is embedded into curriculum, meets a real need in the community, forms reciprocal partnerships with others and occurs locally and globally”,
With this in mind, Grace and our Indonesian partners had clear goals in mind for this Service-Learning Tour to be reciprocal for all involved.
Goal 1. Build cross-cultural friendships
Goal 2. Celebrate and learn from each other’s culture and country
Goal 3. Help the Indonesians to learn English
Goal 4. Encourage each other in our faith and worth
Goal 5. Have fun.
An experience like this requires many boundaries to be crossed. Our staff and students had to be very aware of the ‘other’, as they crossed and entered boundaries that were new to them ~ culturally, geographically, ethnically and religious. And when boundaries are crossed, we have to come as guest – be invited into the space and learn about those we are visiting. There were many cultural sensitivities that students explored prior to departure, to ensure they could serve their new friends in a respectful way…
As previously mentioned this was about building language, culture and community. Building language required all participants to be truly present and listen, as staff and students participated in conversations. Both English language, and to a lesser degree Indonesian language, was shared and learnt through the sharing of stories. These stories of family, stories of faith and stories of who they are as young people with dreams, united our groups through shared commonalities. However, distinctions were made between the stories within the Batak culture and Australia, and members of HKBP and Grace Communities respectively.
An experience like this does not come without its struggles and challenges (language and cultural differences in particular), but in return many blessings were gained as separate communities came together as one family in Christ….
There is no doubt that all those involved have been inspired to respond to the needs of our world as we work towards creating a world that God intended…
Service Learning Co-ordinator
Grace Lutheran College