Notre Dame Education students make a difference in India

Dr Sean Kearney officially opens
the Dayamani Academy

Notre Dame students welcomed
to the Dayamani Academy

28 February 2014

Offering hope, resilience and a positive educational future for mostly Dalit children underpinned an awe-inspiring trip to India for 10 students from The University of Notre Dame Australia's Sydney Campus.

Reflecting the University's commitment to social justice, students from Notre Dame's Schools of Arts & Sciences and Education facilitated lesson plans and delivered recreational activities to children at the Dayamani Academy in Tenali, approximately 300km from Hyderabad.

The children, most of whom are Dalits (untouchables), have endured challenging circumstances throughout their lives and the Dayamani Academy offers them a place to live, stay and learn.

Associate Dean of the School of Education Sydney, Dr Sean Kearney, said the trip was beneficial for both the Notre Dame students and the students of the Academy.

"Our hope is to build the Dayamani Academy into a first-rate boarding school for disadvantaged children. Money already raised by our students will help fund the hiring of two teachers at the Academy," Dr Kearney said.

"The most important benefit to the Notre Dame students is their own growth, both emotionally and professionally. The students have, and will continue to develop intercultural understandings and global-mindedness focused on social justice.

"For some it is a life-changing experience and one that will lead them to pursue other endeavours focused on service to the community, whether at home or abroad."

Bachelor of Primary Education student, Milly Von Schenberg, agrees and believes the experience has shown her the importance of travel, and interactions with other cultures.

"I am currently studying primary teaching and I wanted to go overseas to see how children learn in different cultures," Milly said.

"This trip has not only inspired me to travel and teach in different countries but it has also showed me how children all around the world, no matter their circumstance, all share the same love for fun and learning."

Bachelor of Arts student, Isabella Szczepanski, also found her future career path inspired by her experiences at the Academy.

"My aim is to be able to help disadvantaged youth around the world but with a primary focus on Aboriginal youth here in Australia," Isabella said.

"In my social justice, psychology, and behavioural science classes I am constantly learning about different cultures, poverty, and injustice in the world. It is one thing to learn about such deep issues but to actually travel and work in that environment is completely eye-opening."

Notre Dame students have a rich history of involvement in volunteer projects both in Australia and abroad. During their time at the University, students are encouraged to participate in social justice and charity projects, through the Notre Dame's Experience the World program, which contribute both to the greater good and their own personal development.

Hannah Guilfoyle: Tel (02) 8204 4141;   

Notre Dame students enjoy a day out
with Dayamani Academy students

Notre Dame student Ryan helps with
PE classes at the Dayamani Academy