Holroyd High School's multicultural day

Rahan Uddia arrived at Holroyd High school seven months ago from an Adelaide detention centre.

The Burmese refugee, now in year 11, was among the more than 500 students to celebrate the school’s multicultural roots on Friday with a flag parade, performances and food.

‘‘That was so awesome,’’ he said.

‘‘I haven’t seen in my whole life all the countries and all the cultures we can see in a little place at school.’’

Rahan now studies extension maths, chemistry, biology and English and has an interest in psychology. He said he appreciates life free from harsh military rule.

Refugees make up about 60percent of the school’s population with about 200 students enrolled in the Intensive English Centre on site.

More than 30 nationalities were represented in the flag parade, among them Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, China, Vietnam, Ghana, Greece, Congo, Egypt, Fiji, Liberia, and New Zealand.

Abbas Kadiwana, in year 11, carried the Indian flag with his younger sister Sakina, 6, in the parade.

They migrated from Gujrati in 2011 to gain a better education.

Abbas spent a year at the school’s Intensive English Centre and now learns physics, engineering studies, and extension mathematics, with plans to become a mechanical engineer or a police officer.

‘‘I love the teachers, the staff here are so friendly and they have helped me a lot to improve my English,’’ he said.

‘‘I feel proud to be Indian and given the opportunity to identify myself to other people.’’

The students set the theme ‘Together we are one’ for a vibrant and inclusive multicultural day.

Principal Dorothy Hoddinott said the event was held every two years as a celebration of the school’s diversity.

‘‘It’s an affirmation of people’s identity,’’ she said.

‘‘Our students ... have different religions and different beliefs, they come from very different backgrounds and what we try and find in the school is our common humanity.

‘‘We have high academic expectations of them and we help them to develop those expectations for themselves so that they can overcome the challenges that many of them have — learning English, poverty, of interrupted education in the case of refugee students, and of being new people in a new land and trying to come to terms with the complexities of life in a new culture.’’

This story GALLERY: Holroyd High School's many cultures first appeared on Parramatta Sun.


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