Bush and city bond in cultural interchange

A strong cultural bond has been forged between Milingimbi Preschool and Sydney’s Lady Game Community Kindergarten .

The five-month-old alliance has become a buddy class relationship, where children in a very remote and city location exchange information about their different lifestyles.

Milingimbi Preschool teacher Gayle Chamberlain said the children enjoy video calling and singing to each other, and swap drawings, photographs and artworks.

“Our children have been teaching the kindergartners some songs in Yolngu Matha, including Baru Baru (crocodile song) Garkman Garkman (frog song) Nyoka Nyoka (crab song) and the Miyapungu Miyapungu (turtle song),” she said.

“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 have reciprocated by sending us photos of themselves, a little story about their origins, and information about their parents’ cultures — mostly Chinese and Korean.

“The kindergarten is a community preschool with many bilingual children whose first language is their home language. But now the Sydney children are trying to master Yolngu Matha so they can speak to the children here, 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 five boxes of clothes and shoes were donated by the families of the kindergartners, including beanies knitted in AFL colours, and coats, shirts, pants and socks.

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

“The Lady Game children watched the boxes being opened, excitedly making comments like ‘he’s wearing my clothes’ and ‘she’s got my shirt on’.”

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

Bush and city bond in cultural interchange

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