Harmony day a celebration of identity and culture

St Peter Claver College Riverview
Dancers entertain the St Peter Claver community during Harmony Day celebrations​

STUDENTS at St Peter Claver College, Riverview, have sent messages of love and hope to the people of Christchurch following the college's Harmony Day celebrations.

Celebrated world-wide, this year marked the 20th anniversary of Harmony Day, which celebrates Australia's cultural diversity.

It also coincides with the United Nations' International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Assistant Principal for Religious Education Angela Ryan said the college's Harmony Day celebrations took on even greater importance following the recent events in Christchurch.

“Last week we were able to celebrate Harmony Day in our community, this week our students have prayed for our human family and created powerful messages of love, care and solidarity to send to the communities in Christchurch," Angela said.

“Nurturing cultures of acceptance, encouraging curiosity rather than fear and providing opportunities for mutual appreciation are vital for the future of our world," she said.

Year 12 College Captain Sommer Rose Radley said for St Peter Claver students Harmony Day was a celebration of identity and culture.

“We celebrate all cultures which flourish in our community, and on Harmony Day we take the opportunity to share through story-telling, food, music and dancing.

“We get to know people more deeply discovering where they come from and how culture has shaped their identity.

“This is a sacred day for all, and it is cherished amongst everyone in the Claver community," Sommer said.

Angela said the college's kitchen operations class prepared food from different cultures including, Indian, Italian, Australian and Asian.

She said following the feast of food, the college acknowledged “this sacred country which we are so blessed to share".  

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students performed a Welcome dance and then entertained the audience with a mosquito dance."

Polynesian dancers followed with a traditional Samoan dance, the Sosefina, that represented couples coming together.

The dance highlighted the oneness or unity of couples when they put aside their differences.

Year 11 student Eneteti Turnbull then performed a dance from Kiribati where, in society, there were strict gender roles.

However, Eneteti said, in dance these roles were blurred.

She said roles within dance were common to both men and women and possessed a shared importance.

It was followed by Year 11 student, Renita Fereti, who led a Polynesian dance that involved all cultures and celebrated family love.

Then it was the turn of the Africa United dancers.

In between performances one student talked about her story of coming to Australia seeking refuge while Year 12 College Captain Tuia Gregory, shared his journey, learning about his own cultural identity.

He spoke of the importance of culture and encouraged everybody to, 'find out about your story, your history, your culture'.

Celebrations finished with a Haka performed by senior boys and the senior band leading the college community in a singalong.

Year 12 College Captain Benjamin Deutscher said not only was Harmony Day about acknowledging the history of the cultures of the world but so too for celebrating how these cultures make us collectively united."

Angela said college Cultural Captain, Cassandra Sua, as project leader, obtained real-world experience leading the organisation and running of the day.

She said the all-day celebration provided cross curriculum learning as the events, kitchen operations and active volunteering classes organised, ran and catered for the significant event.

Principal Terry Finan said the college was blessed to have a large number of students from diverse cultural backgrounds.

“Harmony Day is the ideal vehicle for us to celebrate this rich cultural diversity through song, dance and traditional cuisines," he said.​

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