Year 10 Indigenous Immersion – Santa Teresa

Aug 4, 2017

During the winter holidays, students and teachers from three Good Samaritan schools travelled to the closed rural Aboriginal community of Santa Teresa, 80km south-east of Alice Springs. Through this immersion trip, we were given the chance to engage with the locals, learn from Sister Liz’s rich experience and volunteer in the community. We had the privilege of helping at the crèche; preparing and delivering meals to homes through the community centre; aiding the Aboriginal women at the spirituality centre; and attending a variety of vibrant church and home Masses.

Listening to Sister Liz explain the depth and symbolism of the murals painted by local women on the walls of the church, we felt a sense of connection between Catholic beliefs and Aboriginal culture and their ancient faith. It was profound to learn about the strong links between the two and the impact their faith has on their daily lives. Another experience that left a huge impression on us was the home Mass. We sat in the front yard of a family home in the red dirt, surrounded by children, teenagers, adults and about ten wild dogs. Listening to Fr Bosco with the occasional car driving past filling the nearby road with dust, surrounded by the natural beauty of Santa Teresa, and witnessing the sun set behind him was simply breathtaking.

We left Santa Teresa with new found admiration for a community who transcend the disadvantage thrust upon them by government legislation, racist beliefs held by the Australian public and the little yet constant negative coverage of Aboriginal affairs by the media. Through their dedication to the Catholic faith, strong sense of community and powerful connection to their land and traditions, the people of Santa Teresa live lives rich in stewardship, love, hospitality, integrity, justice and peace, free from the material objects and aspirations that have become necessary to our existence in the first world. We entered Santa Teresa with the intention of lending a hand in the community, but we left with the gift of insight into how our two communities can co-exist peacefully and enhance each other’s cultures.

We would like to thank Sister Liz, Father Bosco and the Santa Teresa locals for warmly welcoming us into their community. We would highly recommend that future Year 10 students consider pursuing an immersion experience such as this so they can develop a deeper understanding of Aboriginal life, issues and spirituality – information that is crucial to anyone who plans to pursue a career in law, politics, education or social services. Not only that, but anyone who wants to live a life as a more informed, aware and empathetic citizen.

 

Carla Krnel, Sophia Van Rooyen & Laura Hulme
Stella Maris College