Refugee, anti-racism capaigner and musician Marko Kisose talks with Year 7 students from Nambucca Heads High School for the Becoming U Living Libraries program.

Living Libraries is a powerful connection and storytelling initiative co-designed with Nambucca Heads High Year 7 students and teachers.

The idea started overseas several years ago and is something the students, staff, and community wanted to try here, and the first event was a tremendous success.

Living Libraries is part of our Future U program and brings students and the community together. 

A group of local people from diverse backgrounds and with varied life experiences and expertise volunteered as the ‘books’ that students borrow. The ‘books’ share stories about a period of impact in their lives and what drives them in their current role.

The students also share their stories, voice their hopes and goals, and can seek advice about overcoming barriers.

This ambitious program helps students reflect on different people, cultures, beliefs, values, and ways of thinking. The initiative provides them with new knowledge and understanding about what’s possible.

The school collected student responses after the event, and here are some:

“Thanks, Miss. That was so much better than I thought it was going to be”

“How sick was Marko!”

“Veena and I spoke about building and how I want to be a chippie, and she has invited me to a house she is building and said I could do some work experience”

“I liked Izzy the best because she has worked with kids like me in NT.”

One student told Becoming U Nambucca Valley Community Connector Elisse that she was glad she repeated otherwise she wouldn’t have had the chance to hear the stories.

The community guests meeting and making connections with the students were:

CLARE BATH – Creative Director and Owner, BathTime Productions 

KIAH BOWEN – Domestic Violence Support Officer, NSW Police, and awesome basketballer  

SAM DAYKIN: Youth Activities Coordinator, Ozgreen

JACLYN HILL-SMITH: Midwife, NSW Health  

MARKO KISOSE: Refugee and anti-racism campaigner, singer, songwriter, musician, soccer coach and player, part of All One Under the Sun 

BEN LAMBERT: Director of Cardiology, NSW Health 

BEC MINICHILLI: Program Manager, Junaa Buwa Centre for Youth Wellbeing, Mission Australia  

ISABEL PAVLICH-MILES: Community Connector, Becoming U 

TAMSYN SPEAR: Development Officer, Netball NSW 

VEENA TILLY: Rotarian, educator, volunteer and leader of The Fiji Project 

COURTNEY TUNE: Small Business Mentor, Alt Collective

We hope to run more Living Libraries events in the future in both the Nambucca Valley and Toormina areas.

Thanks to the students for sharing their stories, listening, and engaging, Principal Dot Panaretos for kicking off this amazing event, teacher Tina Seckold who worked so hard over such a long time to bring this project to life, and to all the other staff who helped make it happen, and a massive thank you to the wonderful community members who volunteered their time. 

Photo of Becoming U Living Libraries event community guests smiling at camera - Courtney Tune, Bec Minichilli, Isabel Pavlich Miles, Veena Tilly, Tina Seckold, Jaclyn Hill-Smith, Clare Bath, Marko Kisose, Ben Lambert, Sam Daykin,, Tamsyn Spear, and Kiah Bowen.

We’re so grateful for this amazing group. Back L-R: Courtney Tune, Bec Minichilli, Isabel Pavlich Miles, Veena Tilly, and Tina Seckold from Nambucca Heads High. Front L-R: Jaclyn Hill-Smith, Clare Bath, Marko Kisose, Ben Lambert, Sam Daykin, Tamsyn Spear, and Kiah Bowen.

Author: Simone Atallah

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