Harmony Day at St Norbert College

05 April 2023

It’s not every day that 797 dishes from 11 restaurants are delivered to one school.

Nor is it every day that a group of Japanese exchange students – the first to arrive in WA since the pandemic – are greeted at a Perth school’s gates by students and staff dressed in costumes from all over the globe.

But these were some of the highlights at St Norbert College’s 10th annual Harmony Day on 21 March, which celebrated the 44 different cultures represented at the Queens Park Catholic secondary college.

For Harmony Day, St Norbert College treated all its staff and students, and their international guests, to a free lunch chosen from 11 international cuisines, all cooked and delivered from local eateries. A whole-school liturgy, national costume parade, multicultural quiz, multicultural live music performance and the international food feast were capped off with boomerang dot painting and a stall run by the Sikh community, which introduced students to the experience of turban tying.

On the lunch menu were curries, banh mi rolls, noodles, nasi goreng, biryani, burritos, falafel kebabs, pizza, pasta, lasagne, steak pies and sushi.

It was the perfect day for students from Kindai University Fukuoka High School, in the southern island Kyushu, to get a taste of Australian education and multiculturalism.

The Japanese students – paired with St Norbert College students who study the language – participating in Japanese, maths and PE lessons as well as Harmony Day activities.

Year 12 student, Sharie Fernandez, who was paired with visitor Hirona said playing Japanese games and doing activities such as origami and calligraphy were a highlight:

‘I think the Japanese students learnt a lot about the Australian high school environment, and the many different cultures in Australia, as Harmony Day showcased the multiple cultures our school has from countries all over the world.

‘The highlight for me was getting to know the Japanese exchange students and doing fun activities with them.’

The school’s Japanese language teacher, Keiko Gray, added:

‘Our Year 12 boys and three Japanese boys were even singing together. One of our students told me she had so much fun that now wanted to do ATAR Japanese next year.’

Jason Hutchinson, Managing Director of Gold Educational Tours, which organises Japanese school immersions to WA said:

‘Our students had an incredible day.

‘This school is the first Japanese high school to visit WA in 2023 and although only a handful have come since we opened the borders last year, we have more than 20 student groups coming in 2023 so the eagerness for Japanese parents, teachers and students to go abroad and have these kinds of interactive activities is very strong.’

Harmony Day 2023 was a logistical challenge but something all students and staff enjoyed added St Norbert College Harmony Day co-ordinator and Head of Mathematics, Colette Miranda.

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