Migration stories take students on memorable journey

When teacher Lisa Roth asked her principal to read the draft of a book her Years 5 and 6 class had begun producing on the lives of people who had migrated to Australia she suggested she have a box of tissues on hand.

"Lisa was right," said Eastlakes Public School principal Jane Gilbert. "Some of the stories make you feel very teary. It was very difficult leaving their home countries, particularly not having English as a language in most cases.

"It's really very beautiful."

Journey to a new life

Journey to a New Life is the work of Ms Roth's 2012 class and took a year to produce.

The book is a beautifully packaged and heart-felt collection of interviews, recipes and images that tell the stories of people from all over the world who have come to Australia to make a new life.

The idea of the book began when the students were studying Australian identity and immigration. They were asked as part of an assignment to find people in their local community to interview to get an intimate understanding of the experiences others have had in starting life in a new country.

"When all the stories came back I took them home to look at them. I turned off the TV and got a box of tissues and started crying as I was reading them," Ms Roth said.

"Because I was born here and brought up here I haven't had to go through these hardships. The people interviewed were families of the students I had been teaching. I could understand what they had gone through to get those students to me. It was just lovely."

Sharing experiences and developing understanding

The students also joined in roundtable discussions and debriefings about how they felt hearing their peers' stories.

"They started to understand more - 'I've come from this country and we've had hardship and others have had the same experience'," Ms Roth said.

Nineteen countries were represented in the book, including Turkey, Bangladesh, Singapore, Uruguay, Indonesia, Java and the Philippines.

Ms Roth said students felt it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

"They couldn't believe they were authors - to see their name and they've interviewed a family member. Some of the students were going to buy two or three copies of the book to send overseas. A lot of the parents have come here to give their kids a good opportunity for learning so something like this is appreciated."

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