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14 May 2015


Amazing race to learn about Australia

Some of the participants in SSI and Fairfield MRC’s amazing race excursion.

The excursions are aimed at teaching young people who’ve recently arrived in Australia how to use public transport, immersing them in Australian culture, teaching them about the country and showing them iconic landmarks. On the latest excursion, 28 young SSI clients from refugee backgrounds, 14 volunteers and four staff from Fairfield MRC met at Fairfield train station, where the young clients were given money and encouraged to buy their own train tickets.

The group was divided into seven teams of four and each team was allocated volunteers, many of whom spoke Arabic and English, to be their team leaders.

Each team was given a map and envelopes containing instructions to follow to various locations, from Fairfield train station to sites that included UTS, the Opera House, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), the State Library and the law courts.

SSI Life Skills Program Team Leader Shashika Peeligama said that at each location, teams had to complete a set of questions and fun activities relevant to the location.

“For example, at UTS, teams had to find a UTS student and ask them what they were studying, the path they took to get into their course, and what job they’d like after studying,” Ms. Peeligama said. “At the MCA teams had to find a particular exhibition and answer questions on Indigenous art. And at the law courts, teams had to answer questions around illegal activities and who to contact for legal assistance.”

It was National Youth Week at the time and one of their activities was to have a picture taken using their bodies to sign the word “youth”.

As the theme for Youth Week was ‘It starts with us’, teams were also asked to discuss what young people can do to make the world and future a better place.

“The responses were fantastic,” Ms Peeligama said, “including encouraging greater understanding of different people; campaigning for world peace; and being more involved in education and sports.”

The finish line was Hyde Park’s Anzac Memorial, to learn about the significance of Anzac Day in this year of the Gallipoli landing’s 100th anniversary.

The teams lunched in Hyde Park, where the winning team – those who’d completed the most activities – were rewarded with movie tickets.

“This activity was so great,” said participating SSI volunteer Abbas Makrab. “I had a wonderful time and the clients just loved it – they had lots of fun, and they got plenty of information about Australian places, law, culture and sport. I think it will be great if the activity is run [regularly].”

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