Celebrating our Jarlmadangah Immersion
The 2022 Jarlmadangah trip was an amazing experience, filled with extraordinary people, knowledge and places. Our group of eight students and two staff entered this environment with respect and consideration. The many challenges and triumphs we encountered each day helped us to bond as a group, as we learned and grew from our shared experiences.
The immersion started with a few days in Broome to acclimatise to the harsh heat and dry conditions of Western Australia. We visited the Sisters of Saint John of God, where we heard from Sister Pat, who explained the history behind the work of the Beagle Bay Mission at the time of the Stolen Generation. The Principal of the Nyikina Mangala Community School, Wikitoria, and teacher Megan, collected us in their 4 wheel drive to take us on the dirt road out to Jarlmadangah, where we were greeted by the sight of red, rocky ranges.
The community was positive and welcoming, from initially meeting Miss Wiki and Miss Megan, to entering the close-knit community and meeting its members. Mum Annie, an elder within the community, Welcomed us to Country through a Smoking Ceremony, supported by her two sisters. She spoke to us with such emotion about her story, the story of her country and her family. We listened intently as she took us to see native plants, and shared her knowledge of their properties and uses as medicines and bush tucker.
Later that day we ventured into our first day of teaching and life at the school. The children within the community continually surprised us with their knowledge of culture and land, as well as wisdom given to them by their elders and parents. Every single person had something wonderful to share – talents and passions, knowledge, a hot meal, a hug and friendship.
We stayed in the community for five days, spending each morning and afternoon surrounded by the children of Jarlmadangah, teaching them through the classes and activities we had planned. We witnessed that these people live by three things: love, family and country. We felt the full effects of these principles. Miss Megan warned us before entering that country would get under our skin. Initially we didn’t understand what she meant, but this country indeed made its way into our hearts. The children and elders treated us with such care, as though we were family, opening up their home and country to us.
We are so grateful to have been a part of this trip. Jarlmadangah has changed our lives more than any of us could have ever expected or imagined. It was an honour and a privilege to learn about a culture and group of people, many of whom our ancestors have caused much harm and hurt.
Hannah Raynor, Hannah Fawcett and Jess Bourke