Last Friday, a group of Year 8 French students went on an excursion to Matthew Flinders Anglican College which hosted an event called ‘The Guardians of the Pacific’. The event was to raise our understanding of our French speaking neighbours such as New Caledonia. This was a great opportunity for our students to meet peers from other schools, listen to student testimonials about their trips to New Caledonia and to raise awareness about the French speaking Pacific countries, which are literally on our door step – just a two-hour flight away.
Australians are known for their monolingual mindset, many mistakenly thinking that knowing English is enough as we live on an island and English is a global language.
However, in today’s global world, learning foreign languages is extremely beneficial – not only does it improve our brain power and our English skills, but it also improves our cultural awareness as well as our employability in the future. Languages are power. Being multilingual opens countless doors of opportunity.
The Guardians of the Pacific excursion was a useful and eye-opening event as it is vital for our students to see the importance of studying French for our region and for understanding and appreciating the cultural diversity in the Pacific.
As Dr Florence Boulard from James Cook University pointed out in her lecture, we should all work for the wellbeing of our region. It is difficult to care for something we don’t know about. Raising awareness of the French speaking countries in the Pacific (including their problems) will reinforce the connectedness and responsibilities that all countries in the Pacific have, including Australia. Sea level rising and pollution touch millions of people in the Melanesia and Polynesia – we should all care for the future of our planet from humanitarian and environmental perspectives. Sharing languages helps bring people together and together we can change the future, she said.