Sparking young people’s interest is a crucial part of creating a deeper understanding of Victorian Aboriginal Language revival in the broader community. On February 23, Mandy presented a workshop to Year 9 students at Mount Scopus Memorial College in Burwood with a focus on language and culture. She explained her Woiwurrung language revival story which generated a lot of questions in relation to Aboriginal language and identity from the students. At the end of the workshop, Mandy taught the students how to sing "heads-shoulders-knees-and-toes" in the Woiwurrung language.
Ittay Flescher, Community Service and Achshav Coordinator at Mount Scopus Memorial College, had attended a VACL event at the State Library of Victoria and was keen to invite VACL to present a cultural program at their school. He described Mandy’s presentation as exceptional due to her “breadth of technical knowledge of the history and related issues, as well as her ability to relay their symbolic cultural significance to the students.” Ittay added that Mandy presented a very difficult history with both honesty and sensitivity, being inclusive and not alienating the audience of students.
Mandy was interested in hearing about the history of Hebrew language revival and the parallels with Victorian Aboriginal languages. Students at Mount Scopus Memorial College were appreciative of this opportunity to discuss language revival with Mandy. Drawing these parallels and discussing difficult history has a positive impact on young peoples’ cross-cultural awareness and understanding.
To see students singing in Woiwurrung click here
For digital resources in Woiwurrung language click here
This week at Federation Square, Save the Children hosted a variety of workshops to highlight some the difficult situations faced by children all around the world, including sanitation, war and conflict and inadequate school facilities. VACL staff Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir and Mandy Nicholson teamed up with Save the Children to highlight some of the barriers faced by children when it comes to education.
In this workshop, students stepped into a classroom taught by a teacher who was speaking a language they didn't understand, in this case either Woi Wurrung or Boon Wurrung, and asked if they had any idea what was going on. This prompted the kids to contemplate many questions, including - do you think if you came to school everyday, and you couldn't understand what the teacher was saying, would you want to go to school? Would you feel confused? How can this problem be solved? What could make it easier?
This lesson was one well learned by the children who were really responsive to the exercise offering insightful and thoughtful responses to these challenges.
These issues are universal and relate to children overseas, children coming to Australia and Indigenous children in Australia whose 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th language is English.
Congratulations to Save the Children staff and volunteers, teachers and children from a variety of Primary and Secondary schools across Melbourne, VACL staff Mandy and Aunty Fay, and all others involved, for a very worthwhile event.
Our very own Mandy Nicholson has created new signs for the Wurundjeri Stories Indigenous Signage Trail at Warrandyte State Park. Nicholson helped revitalise the outdated 'past tense' signage, to show that Wurundjeri is still a living, relevant culture and language.
"Woi wurrung [Wurundjeri language] is used throughout all the signs to raise awareness of our language and that we still use it" she says.
The Wurundjeri stories trail comprises of six signs which share knowledge on Wurundjeri history, culture, traditional life and people associated with this sacred site
Catch the full story here:
Vicki Couzen’s, VACL Board Member, lauched her first solo exhibition ‘Marooka – to take care of'’ at Maroondah Art Gallery in July. The exhibition showcased artwork, language, song, dance and ceremony “taking the audience on a journey into Gunditjmara Country” – (quoted from the Maroondah art gallery program).
As part of the exhibition Vicki Couzens and Dr Kris Eira held a free public lecture on the 12th of July during NAIDOC week, where they told their stories and connections to each other, as language workers and artists.
VACL Project Officer Mandy Nicholson performed with the Djirri Djirri dance group, and held language workshops for primary school students as part of the exhibition. To see a video clip of the students from the Village School Croydon learning to count to five in Wurundjeri with Mandy click here.
Below are a selection of photos from the exhibition.