Meaningful bonds forged between Sydney city and a bush kindergarten in the NT

by Freya Lucas

August 08

A “strong cultural bond” has been forged between Milingimbi Preschool and Sydney’s Lady Game Community Kindergarten, the Northern Territory Department of Education has noted, with children from Lady Game and Milingimbi enjoying a “five-month alliance” so far. 

 

The buddy class relationship, where children in a very remote and city location exchange information about their different lifestyles, sees children from both sites video calling and singing to each other, and swapping drawings, photographs and artworks.

 

Milingimbi Preschool teacher Gayle Chamberlain said the children enjoy teaching the Lady Game kindergartners some songs in Yolngu Matha (the language spoken in the Milingimbi community), including Baru Baru (crocodile song), Garkman Garkman (frog song), Nyoka Nyoka (crab song), and the Miyapungu Miyapungu (turtle song),”

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“We’ve also sent them the Djamarrkuḻiw΄ wakal Manikay Mala eBook, a board book with a DVD of songs and drawings developed by the Milingimbi community.

 

The Lady Game children, who are mostly from Chinese and Korean backgrounds, have responded by sharing photos of themselves, a little story about their origins, and information about their parents’ cultures.

 

Lady Game is a community preschool with many bilingual children whose first language is their home language, but the children are keen to master Yolngu Matha so they can speak to the children at Milingimbi, and sing along with them.

 

“They are keen to know how Milingimbi children live, including whether they still hunt for food or buy it at the shop,” Ms Chamberlain said. 

 

Lady Game has sent some donations to the Milingimbi children, including beanies knitted in AFL colours, and coats, shirts, pants and socks, and the children from Lady Game were able to watch the boxes being opened by the Milingimbi children, which sparked joy and excitement on both sides. 

 

“We try and have Skype and Messenger sessions at least once a week with the Sydney children, sharing some significant events, like the arrival of the boxes,” Ms Chamberlain said. 

 

The Lady Game kindergarten is fundraising to purchase swim rash vests and bathers for the Milingimbi children to wear during water play at the preschool.

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