​​A holistic approach to building intercultural understanding

​For Huntingdale Primary School, Cultural Diversity Week will fall on another permanent fixture in their own calendar, Intercultural Understanding Week.

A bilingual English-Japanese school since 1997, Huntingdale Primary School's 20-year journey has seen enormous progress in developing a strong and diverse school community. Since participating in a 2014 pilot program, the Intercultural Understanding Field Trial, Principal Kate Gray saw an opportunity to integrate intercultural understanding into everything the school does, not just their studies.

'Being a bilingual school and making intercultural understanding integral has really heightened our awareness of the need for cultural diversity and perceptions in our studies,' said Kate.

'We're really equipping our children with the skills to approach the real world, where multiple cultures are the norm.'

For this year's celebrations, the school has focused on food to help each culture represented at their school bring something to the table.

'We chose food as our focus this year because, with a dance or a music performance where some parents or students may be shy to get up on stage, food offers them an opportunity to share their culture and the story behind the meals they share.'

The school has also undertaken a number of programs to help build a more inclusive community for students, teachers and parents. Beginning with their library, the school did an audit of all their books and highlighted a need for literature that kids from all backgrounds could relate to.

'A lot of the books we had were quite Anglo-centric and so we brought in books with a breadth of backgrounds,' said Kate.

'This was a really simple approach yet really effective for our children to not only relate to the books better and to se​​e their own cultures represented on the page, but also for them to share and enhoy other cultures.'

Huntingdale teachers have brought this global lens to their studies, ensuring that each subject and each focus is built on the intercultural understanding of students and staff.

'There was also a combined effort on behalf of our teachers, one of them being units of work around visual literacy and artwork from different cultures,' said Kate.

'This approach allowed the students to really wonder where this work came from and the inspiration behind that. It opened their eyes as to the different backgrounds that formed these perspectives.

'It really showed our community that, we're all part of one world and there are many cultures to appreciate and celebrate.'​​