Building social harmony through books

Friday 18 March 2016

Book with middle pages made into the shape of a heart

Bridging with Books aims to facilitate a connection between two separate groups of students.

In summary

  • Bringing together VCAL and Migrant Education students
  • Program uses books to build mutual understanding
  • Donations of primary and pre-school books needed
Swinburne is a university that has a long-standing commitment to its migrant communities"

A new program using the power of books to break down barriers between two different groups of students, is calling for wider community support.

The Bridging with Books library program has been a labour of love for Swinburne University of Technology Youth Programs teacher, Marilyn Hand, who is bringing together VCAL students and Migrant Education students at the university’s Croydon campus.

“Swinburne is a university that has a long-standing commitment to its migrant communities, so I felt confident that the program would be well received by staff and students,” says Ms Hand.

“Our VCAL students have had very little, if any, contact with migrants and refugees. As such, they have almost no understanding of the extreme challenges these students have and continue to face.”

“Our Migrant Education students are not comfortable interacting with our VCAL students for a variety of reasons, one of which is the language barrier.”

Bridging with Books aims to facilitate a connection between these two separate groups of students; first as fellow human beings, and secondly as mutually supportive learners.

Pairing VCAL students with Migrant Education students allows both groups to have a strengthened learning experience, promoting a better understanding and acceptance of each other.

“Migrant Education students can select a book from the library that they would like to read for themselves or to their children. Their fellow VCAL students will support them to read their book until they are confident to do so independently and with their children,” says Ms Hand.

For this potentially remarkable program to succeed, the students need to build a resource bank of books and are calling out for donations of pre-school and primary school books.

“It would be wonderful to have the library up and running, so donations of books are very much welcome and needed!”

As well as building social cohesion, the hope is that the children of the Migrant Education students will have the advantage of having a parent who is confident enough to read to them at home.

Book donations can be made by contacting Marilyn Hand on (03) 9726 1516 or by emailing mhand@swin.edu.au