For Sarah Whaleboat, the opportunity to teach abroad and share her culture with students in a small primary school in Nepal was nothing short of a dream come true.
High up in the Nepalese mountains, in the small rural village of Astam, Whaleboat shared many cultural similarities that helped create strong bonds with the students at Shree Bhumeshwor School.
Primarily teaching English to year 6 students, the third-year Bachelor of Education and Applied Science (Disability) student found that as a Torres Strait Islander, she could relate to the students’ culture and share her own.
“I shared my Torres Strait Islander Culture book and I could see that we could relate to similar things in our culture such as basket weaving and cultural food to name a couple.”
Whaleboat was one of nine aspiring teachers who travelled to Nepal for the annual study tour organised by the School of Education.
She described the village of Astam and its surrounding countryside as “pure beauty”, but venturing further into the area, the picture of poverty and the struggle to survive became clear.
“You instantly adopt a different perspective and a love for the people and the place grows,” Whaleboat said.
“Although, the first couple of days I cried seeing some of the conditions for the children, you eventually realise you just want to give as much as you can for that short period of time that you’re there.”
Whaleboat was devastated at the news of the Nepal earthquake in April, though thankfully the school has been kept safe and has not been affected.
"I have donated the Nepal Earthquake Disaster Relief Fund and encourage others to do so to help the victims of this tragedy."
Whaleboat said the trip could not have gone as smoothly as it did without the help she received from the Ngarara Willim Centre, who provide support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples at RMIT.
“Ngarara Willim helped me get funding for flights and accommodation, and continue to support me to further and enrich my education and employability,” she said.
Whaleboat looks forward to taking the skills and confidence she’s gained from Shree Bhumeshwor School to her future endeavours, believing the experience has taught her one very important lesson when it comes to teaching: “Instead of trying to force what you know and believe, study how the individual learns and build upon how they learn.”