The Murray High School community celebrates success

Book unlocks Bhutanese students' refugee tales

Kerri Carr

A book chronicling life in Bhutan, life in a UNHCR refugee camp in Nepal after eviction from Bhutan and life in Australia showcases what can be achieved for student outcomes with Gonski funding.

Murray High School learning support officer (ethnic) Ram Khanal said many students read their stories in front of an audience of more than 150 people at the launch of Remarkable Threads of Life.

“You wouldn’t imagine them reading a sentence properly just 12 months ago,” he said. The students previously spent their lives in refugee camps in Nepal.

“With the little Gonski funding that we had, we wanted to create a book to create cultural awareness, to tell stories that otherwise wouldn’t be told and … also help students with their literacy skills,” Ram said. He said some of the students’ grandparents were also assisted by school learning support officers and teachers at the high school to tell their stories.

The idea was created by teachers who then worked with the ESL department and school learning support officers to implement the project. The students first wrote their stories at a workshop and later, Ram sat with each student to help them properly articulate their story. Ram, a former student of the school, was born in a refugee camp in Nepal where he lived for 16 years before resettlement in Australia in 2009.

“I cannot stress enough how important Gonski funding is for our schools,” Ram said.

“It is very unfortunate that our government won’t fund the final two years of this great educational reform because education is the single most important investment that we can do to secure the future of our country and our children.

“It saddens me that many children … will miss out on an opportunity to secure their future simply because of a lack of resources. I would have accepted this if I was still in the refugee camp but I think we can do better.”

Funds raised from the book sale will be used to create awareness on family violence and youth mental health in the refugee community through a partnership program between Murray High School and the Bhutanese Association of Albury.

Ram said the book is written in very plain language and is suitable for students in primary as well as secondary schools.

To buy a copy of the book, contact Murray High School’s Federation Representative, Tom Hawkesworth.