Everybody belongs on Harmony Day

​THROUGH food, music, d​ance and costume, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (OLSH) School, Darra, celebrated all things multicultural on Harmony Day.

The school pr​omoted participation, inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone as the community’s many cultures joined together to push the message “Everybody Belongs”.

Now in its 15th year, Harmony Day celeb​​rates Australia's diverse multicultural population, and coincides with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics around 45 per cent of Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was; more than 60 Indigenous languages are spoken a​​nd, apart from English, the most common languages spoken are Mandarin, Italian, Arabic, Cantonese, Greek, Vietnamese, Tagalog/Filipino, Spanish and Hindi.

OLSH’s H​armony Day celebrations began with a traditional welcome to country performed by students, followed by a parade of flags from around the globe.

Highlights from the stage performances included a whip-cracking demonstration from an “Aussie bushman”, and music and dance from Vietnam, India, Croatia, Samoa, and Africa and delicious food​ from different cultures represented at the school.

Sc​​hool Pastoral Worker Presentation Sister Sue Walpole said Harmony Day was a really important feature in the school’s calendar.

She​ said the school had a large, multicultural community, with more than 30 different cultures represented.

“Our celebrations ​​give these different groups a chance to be proud of their culture and it's also an opportunity for the rest of the school community to appreciate their differences,” she said.

Sue said​​ many families arrived early to be a part of the celebrations and some families wore their national costumes while others wore the traditional Orange, the colour that symbolises Harmony Day.

“That’​s a really important part of the day here at Darra, working together to make the school a better place for all of us,” she said.

“Every​body really enjoyed the shared lunch," she said.

Student ​Esther Abiya, said the activities were a great way to bring students and their families together in harmony.

Esther, who ar​rived in Australia as a refugee from The Congo, said it was different to how many other schools celebrated.

"It was fun and excit​​ing," she said.

“We got to perfo​​rm a traditional dance in front of the whole school and we learnt about each other’s cultures by talking to each other and sharing each other’s delicious food."

Esther said what she enjoyed most was having the chance to perform in front of the whole school, giving them a glimpse into her own Congolese culture through dance and music.