Successful Language and Cultural Exchange Program Between Australia and Indonesia - Education Matters Magazine

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Successful Language and Cultural Exchange Program Between Australia and Indonesia

The link between students at Jakarta’s MIN Cempaka Putih madrassa in Indonesia and Marlborough Primary School in Melbourne, Australia started in 2011 through a project called BRIDGE. This language and cultural exchange program was funded and initiated by the Australian government. BRIDGE, also known as Building Relations through Inter-cultural Dialogue and Growing Engagement, is a program that allows students from each school to know more about their counterparts, including their culture and most of all their language.

The program effectively bridged Australia and Indonesia, allowing their constituents to learn one another’s language and cultural background. The decline of teaching Asian languages in Australia was already noted by Kurt Mullane, Director of Asian Education. He also observed that the decline of learning other languages needed to be dealt with and prioritized.

Bridging nations

The Internet proved to be the key to the success of the BRIDGE project. Students and teachers from Marlborough Primary School in Melbourne, Australia and MIN Cempaka Putih in Indonesia were given the opportunity to converse regularly using Skype. This paved the way to a more clear and concise learning of each other’s culture and language.

Kathy McVeigh, a school teacher in Marlborough Primary School, is one of the first to engage in this program. She stated that the program opened up new possibilities and learning opportunities that common language classed could not offer. She even added that information about other languages in books is moot and academic compared to the learning process of personally interacting with a person who speaks the language being learned.

Exchanging mentors

The BRIDGE program became a huge success not only because of the support it had coming from the Australian and Indonesian governments, but also due to the dedication of the teachers who accomplished what needed to be done.
In order to have a personal experience of what Australia and its language is all about, Siti Khodijah, a teacher in MIN Cempaka Putih visited the country not only to observe but also to share the magnificence of Indonesia. Siti exclaimed that it was indeed exciting to have the experience to personally talk with an Australian native. In the same manner, teachers from Marlborough Primary School also visited their Indonesian counterparts to share the many wonderful things about Australia.

Creating close ties

The BRIDGE program contributed much to the Marlborough Primary School. The students in the school learned about Ramadan and gained a deeper insight of the culture of Indonesia. The Islamic Holy month was even celebrated in the school. Lanterns used for Ramadan were hung and cards were made and sent to the students attending their sister-school MIN Cempaka Putih.

Meanwhile, Marlborough Primary School got the attention of the Indonesian Consulate in Melbourne. A group of students were invited by the Consulate to participate in the observance of Indonesia’s Independence Day which featured various activities and contests. The activity was a huge success and two Australian students won tickets to Jakarta sponsored by the Consulate.

For years, no other language was taught at Marlborough Primary School except for English. With the current acceptance of the Indonesian language into the school curriculum, many consider the BRIDGE program to be successful.

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