Students bring culture to Bunjil stage

Lyndhurst Secondary College students perform a Samoan “Taupou” dance.

by Cam Lucadou-Wells

Students from across the South East have showcased their cultures in spectacular concerts at Bunjil Place theatre.

The annual 4C’s (Cultivating Creative Cultures with Communities) events teamed 15 high schools performing dance and song from across the world.

Bollywood, Tonga, Cook Islands, Afghanistan, Mauritius, Maori and Samoan cultural performances in full costume ignited the stage.

While in the Bunjil Place library, students’ impressive artworks and creative stories were on display.

Even more impressively, the event was led and organised by the VCE-VM (Vocational Major) students from Lyndhurst Secondary College, and jointly with Cranbourne East Secondary College, Gleneagles Secondary College, Cranbourne Secondary College and Hampton Park Secondary College.

Some taught the dances, others were organising costumes and design, promoting the event, supervising OH&S, fund-raising or supporting new dancers.

4C’s founder and Lyndhurst Secondary College teacher Laitini Matautia-Ulugia started the program 17 years ago.

It’s developed by students for students to tackle anti-social behaviour as well as the media’s stigmatism of young people, she says.

One of the aims is also for first and second-generation migrant students to express and re-connect to their cultural identities, as well as to learn more about their peers.

“We just had students that didn’t really understand other cultures,” Matautia-Ulugia said.

“This is a way they can connect to each other and get along across the common thread of art, dance, cultural carvings and fashion.

“Since then, it’s built bonds across a lot of schools, bringing together students that wouldn’t necessarily hang out with each other.”

As well as having fun, students are completing VCE-VM personal-development and literacy units in a “real-life work simulation”.

Part of the practical skills are in event management, fundraising, costume design, dance and community engagement.

“For most of them it’s about growing their employability skills – managing time, working in a team and mentoring young students.

“The highlight of the show was watching the schools and the community come together.”

Also taking part were Lyndale Community Group, Fountain Gate Secondary College, Unschooling in the South East, St Peters College, Hampton Park Secondary College and Narre Warren P-12 College.

From further afield were Officer Secondary College, Westall Secondary College, Carrum Downs Secondary College, The Grange P-12 in Hoppers Crossing and Craigieburn Secondary College.

For the first time, two schools from Melbourne’s North West joined in.

There are plans to further develop 4C’s ‘branch’ to the other side of Melbourne.

Among the packed audiences were local MPs Cassandra Fernando, Gary Maas and Belinda Wilson.

The concert was backed by City of Casey, Bunjil Place, Centre for Multicultural Youth, Le Mana Pasifika, Erdi Foundation, State Library Victoria and Grace Connections.