Kiribati Pacific Partnership and Immersion Experience
As part of our focus on putting our faith into action and encouraging our students to build a positive, just and inclusive world, St Leo’s offers life-changing immersion experiences including our ongoing Pacific Partnership Program with the island nation of Kiribati.
The Republic of Kiribati (pronounced ‘Kiribass’) consists of a chain of islands in Micronesia in the central Pacific Ocean. Kiribati’s atolls cover 811 square kilometres distributed over 3.5 million square kilometres of ocean – approximately the size of Western Australia and South Australia combined.
Kiribati has a population estimated at 110,000 and is one of the world’s poorest countries. It has limited natural resources, and with most of its atolls less than two metres above sea level, it is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and is already confronting major challenges due to rising sea levels. Former President of Kiribati, Anote Tong has become a leading international advocate for ocean conservation and climate change and regularly speaks in Australia and around the world (see interview by Channel 10’s ‘The Project‘).
The Pacific Partnership Program
St Leo’s has developed the Pacific Partnership Program with sister school, The Sacred Heart College, Tarawa, over a number of years, developing a close relationship and mutually beneficial cultural exchange program through sharing our experiences and understanding.
For St Leo’s students, the program lets them experience life from a new perspective by exposing them to a different culture, develop resilience, leadership skills and an understanding of social justice in our region and within a global context. Above all, the program puts our faith into action to demonstrate how we can make a difference as individuals and as a College community.
Our most recent immersion to Kiribati was a wonderful experience for the 12 students and four teachers who participated, some of whom were making return visits. Extended to a 12-day trip, this year’s group were able to spend more time working at the Kiribati School and Centre for Children with Special Needs, as well as with their buddies at Sacred Heart College.
Fundraising efforts throughout the year enabled us to take over $12,000 worth of resources, including data projectors, teaching materials, sewing machines and sporting equipment. The challenge of seeing the poverty and effects of climate change on the Kiribati communities was tempered by the joy and faith of these beautiful people. It was with very heavy hearts and many tears that we returned to Australia with promises to our friends that we would return.
Interested in the 2020 Program
Unfortunately, due to current health and travel warnings, St Leo’s has been forced to cancel the 2020 Kiribati immersion, along with a range of other excursions, events and activities. We will advise interested students and parents of updates as soon as possible.