Indigenous students Experience day

9 June 2010

On Thursday 3 June, the University of Sydney, in partnership with The Smith Family and the Koori Centre, hosted an Experience day for Indigenous high school students from across the Sydney region, many of whom have never considered tertiary education as an option.

Over 100 high school students from years 7 and 8 attended the second annual Indigenous Students' Experience Day, at the University of Sydney's Camperdown Campus. The event aims to encourage more Indigenous students to stay at school and consider higher education post school.

Throughout the day students had the opportunity to experience university life through a series of presentations in the Great Hall, faculty-based subject electives and faculty- run lunch time activities on the front lawns.

The elective workshops provided a range of opportunities for the students including designing their 'dream job', handling bones and insect collections, rock climbing for physical fitness, learning ancient myths, saving the Tasmanian Devil, creating architecture models, examining animal skulls, nursing and patient care, the role of social work, and solving Indigenous language puzzles.

During the lunch time activities the students were joined by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Michael Spence and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Derrick Armstrong along with many Deans and staff of the University.

A feature of the day was the hand painting on to canvas of the Koori Centre logo to commemorate the final day of Reconciliation Week, and it was great to see everyone enthusiastically taking part. The painting will be installed in the Koori Centre and we hope that the students will visit the University in the future and view their artwork.

Many students also enjoyed the activities hosted by Dentistry, Health Sciences, SU Sport and MIRAGE during their lunch break.

"Many of the young people attending the day will be the first in their family to consider further study and the workshops provide them with a taste of university life in a fun and relaxed environment, whilst also prompting them to consider serious career options in areas that interest them," the Smith Family's Executive Director of Engagement, Paul Henderson said.

"The University is proud of its long association with The Smith Family which is an important element in our social inclusion program," said Dr Michael Spence, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sydney. "Our Experience Days hope to encourage students to stay on at school and consider higher education as a real option for themselves."

The feedback from the students, teachers and Faculties has been extremely positive and the day, despite the weather, was a great success. Below is the feedback received from Condell Park High School:

"The students involved from Condell Park were looking forward to the day so much they came and told me every day for a week beforehand! They could not believe the university was taking such an interest in them and giving them bags and lunch, which they really enjoyed. The students attending had not been to a uni before, and they were extremely impressed with the buildings and activities. There was so much hands on stuff they were never bored. They had no criticisms at all, they are hoping to come again next year, and do more activities and different electives. They started talking about uni, and their post school options all the way home.

I was especially impressed with the way the organisers tried to connect with the students individually, and find their interests. Kaleigh was introduced to an academic in the veterinary sciences, and Aiden was given information on medicine, his interest. No matter what the students go on to do, days like this make them feel like valued members of the larger community, and they left in very high spirits with hope and plans for the future.

The students' parents were very keen for them to go, and appreciative of the opportunity.

Thank you to everyone involved!"

Nikki Peek and David, Kaleigh and Aiden from Condell Park High