Approximately 100 Year 9 students from Billanook College visited the synod office in Melbourne this week as part of their annual City9 program. The immersive trip introduced students to city life and fostered greater engagement between the synod and Uniting Church schools.
The synod ground floor provided a base for the students as they ventured out into the city. For some, the excursion was their first exposure to the history and cultural diversity of Melbourne.
Students explored iconic city landmarks and were introduced to sights that they may not normally encounter – buskers, sculptures, arcades, mural art and colourful laneways.
The various statues scattered throughout the Melbourne CBD inspired the students to learn about historical figures such as Charles La Trobe and the famous explorers Burke and Wills.
Federation Square, transformed into a sea of poppies to commemorate the Anzac Centenary, provided a fitting backdrop for students to learn about Australia’s war history.
Some groups visited the Love & Sorrow exhibition at Melbourne Museum. The exhibition showcases more than 300 objects and photographs from World War I, each telling a story of love and sorrow.
Synod staff from different units interacted with the students throughout the week.
The UCA Funds unit discussed ethical investing, while the Commission for Mission led a tour of the Eight Hour monument.
The Uniting Through Faiths team engaged in conversations about media representation, diversity and inclusion to deepen their understanding of interfaith harmony.
A key aspect of the students’ learning was using social media to interact with each other and with the synod. Students tweeted about their experiences and demonstrated their photography skills with panoramic photos. The images are available on the synod Facebook page.
Melbourne is home to a diversity of cultures and religions and students discovered communities many would not normally encounter in their daily lives.
Students visited Chinatown and feasted on cuisine that demonstrated Melbourne’s vibrant multiculturalism.
Some students tweeted that the different flags flying across Melbourne reflect the cultural diversity of Melbourne.
There was an opportunity for students to explore a range of historical buildings in Melbourne throughout the week, including Parliament House and Melbourne Town Hall. They also toured the National Sports Museum, the Magistrates’ Court, Queen Victoria Market and the MCG.
Some groups visited the Victoria Police Museum, where they participated in a Forensic Science Workshop, while other groups went on a sustainability and history tour at Federation Square.
As well as exploring the city, students took part in activities that encouraged them to embrace a spirit of giving.
One such activity was ‘Peg It Forward’ where students wrote positive messages onto wooden pegs that they secretly clip onto strangers. The exercise taught students that even a simple act of kindness can brighten someone’s day.
The synod looks forward to hosting Billanook College students again next year.