Timor Leste teachers visit Gilgai Public on Rotary exchange

Belarmino and Serafim have been enjoying their time at Gilgai Public School.

Belarmino and Serafim have been enjoying their time at Gilgai Public School.

Both teachers and students have been learning new things at Gilgai Public School over the past two weeks.

Coming all the way from Timor Leste, preschool teachers Belarmino and Serafim have been enhancing their skills in a Rotary exchange. 

“We can use the experience to teach in my country,” Serafim said.

“I have a good time here. I really enjoy it here, because there’s some things in here new for us.”

The pair have been immersing themselves in the English language, technology and Australian teaching methods in the hopes of adding to their teaching resources back home. 

Running the program with Rotary for a number of years, principal Deb Halliday said that although language was always a challenge in the beginning, “we find by the time we send them back, their English improves dramatically. Nothing like being thrown in at the deep end, is there?”.

She said the exchange was also an important learning experience for the children.

“It opens their eyes to there being other parts of the world, children in need in other parts of the world - it shows them how lucky they are and how privileged they are to have our little school and the resources we have, and they delight in helping provide resources for our visiting teachers to take back to their little children.”

After two weeks in Gilgai, working with the primary school and mobile preschool, Belarmino and Serafim will continue their learning in schools in Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Brisbane. Armed with new knowledge and technology, the pair will join previous Rotary exchange teachers in running a workshop for their colleagues.

Rotary’s Bob Neich said the program has proved very successful over the years.

“Most of them have taken on a fairly strong leadership role in their local community,” he said.

“There’s a lot of children out there that are gaining benefit just from something as simple as the teachers coming and being here and learning how we teach language and how we do things,” Deb said.

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