Justice Now

Solutions in Sight: Social Justice

Bridging The Gap

A Conversation with Joyce, Edith and Annabelle

by Lisa Chikarovski, A Teen Editorial Board Member

February 1999

In Australia, racial prejudice towards Asians is on the rise. But a small but determined group called AUSCHA made up of students and teachers from all backgrounds, does their best to work against bigotry.

The InSite: What is this teen program about?

Joyce: At this school there are a large number of students with Asian background. It started out as just a friendship group and soon we had people from all over the school joining so we gave it a name, AUSHCA.

Edith: What we're working towards is blending Asian culture into the school community. We arrange various fundraising days and celebrate things like Chinese New Year within the school community.

What we're working towards is blending Asian culture into the school community.

Joyce: I guess it gives everyone a chance to see a different culture as well as have a lot of fun at the same time.

TI: So, how did you get involved?

Annabelle: When I first came to this school, we were given information about a number of groups within the school. I chose AUSCHA because it was unique. I'd never seen a program like this before.

Joyce: It was the same with me. I've only been in AUSCHA for about 6 months but I've loved every minute of it. It's a lot of fun as well as a fantastic learning experience. I don't come from an Asian background myself, but since I joined the group, I've made so many friends from all different cultures. It's really good because now I feel better informed and I also find it easier to make friends because I don't judge them anymore.

... I also find it easier to make friends because I don't judge them anymore.

TI: That's great! What are some things you have learned through the program?

Edith: AUSCHA is mainly about having fun, but being of an Asian background, I now can understand my own culture a lot more and I don't see the celebrations we have as being boring anymore.

Joyce: I get along with people a lot better now. I mean, people I'd never even spoken to before have become my best-friends.

Edith: Every member of AUSCHA is special and unique, I think we've all learned that.

TI: Wow! It's fantastic to see you feel this way. But is there anything really special you've done that has helped bridge the gap between the cultures?

Joyce: I guess you could call me a success story. When I joined the group I was pretty shy, but being around people who are not biased towards anyone because of their race has made me more confident. I've made so many new friends.

...being around people who are not biased towards anyone because of their race has made me more confident...

Edith: I think generally we've just made people more aware and helped those who did not feel that they fit in, feel part of the school community. It makes me smile every time I see a group of students together of mixed backgrounds because I know that AUSCHA has had something to do with it.

TI: Does the group have any particular goals for the future?

Annabelle: Not really. We just hope we can continue the work we're doing.

Joyce: With every new member we get, the group gets stronger. This is what we love to see.

TI: I'm sure a lot of people would be interested in setting up a similar group to AUSCHA. What would you suggest for them?

Edith: Get a lot of people with a common goal and interest. Once you have something established, getting members is the easy bit.

Annabelle: Having support from teachers and students is what gets a group started and keeps it going! After all, the more the merrier!

I think generally we've just made people more aware and helped those who did not feel that they fit in, feel part of the school community.
 

 


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