A Sort of Homecoming…

Teaching has been my life for almost 9 years but I am still restless to find lasting spiritual peace. After a generally troubling week in India, I felt enthusiastic about visiting my parents’ homeland and even more hopeful about learning of our heritage.

After two weeks, Sri Lanka has not disappointed. Dana and I have seen the bustling capital of Colombo, the ancient cities of Sigriya and Anuradhapura, the beachside haven of Trincomalee, the largely army-controlled Jaffna and now, the beautiful tea country of Nuwara Eliya. All these places have been at once, foreign in terms of social codes and geography but also somehow, deeply familiar to me. The tone and rhythm of the spoken English language, the exquisit cuisine and the friendliness of the people seems to extend from out my earliest childhood memories to welcome all travellers… As I sit in Heritance Tea Factory in Nuwara Eliya, I am surrounded by tourists from across the globe and I feel curiously proud!

I will never forget my four nights in Colombo with my Uncle Lennie and Aunty Junie. Their strong faith in the face of personal adversity and the unwavering humility shown by my extended family around them, is typical of Sri Lankan people generally. Though they do not have what we take for granted- like hot water and a reliable supply of electricity, they offer it all willingly and enthusiastically to guests. Their generosity of spirit is truly humbling, even for those without their faith. 

So to a brief report card for our two weeks in Sri Lanka:

Climate: Consistently warm and humid by mid-morning. Generally beautiful!

Hospitality: Extraordinary! Prompt, thorough and always friendly. Mostly carried out by males in immaculate uniforms. Superb value for the Australian dollar.

Culture: Deeply devout and quite proud and disciplined (except for road use!).

Vibrant colours enrich the many Sri Lankan Hindu temples which are intricately crafted and are simply spectacular. Smooth, white bell-shaped Buddhist Stupas are common, with enormous golden Buddhas often adourning mountainsides. All were built with as much pure devotion as shown by the approximately 70% of Sri Lankan Buddhists who make regular pilgrimages to offer their prayers and worship at these sacred sites. To my suprise, Christian churches and Muslim mosques are far less common to reflect their minority status. However, their are countless smaller glass cabinets on roadsides that encase treasured statues from all of these relgious traditions. All belief systems co-exist peacefully as a model for the rest of the world!

Governance: Sri Lanka is self-consciously putting its troubled history of civil confict behind a hive of activity and development. Comprehensive road works are underway in every part of Sri Lanka we have visited so far. Many of these extensive projects are carried out by local women who like their male counterparts in hotels and restaurants, work exhausting hours every day for only modest returns. The downside to this burgeoning progress in terms of strengthening Sri Lanka’s road networks, is the considerable lost time in travelling between cities.

Conversations about Government corruption, the rising cost of living or army autrocities against Tamil civilians are often whispered and always short-lived but there is genuine and universal relief that the war is over. Government propaganda promoting a united Sri Lanka is now quite prominent.

Sites: Decent and more historic than I had expected. Beaches are to be experienced to be believed!

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With Kandy, Galle, Negombo and Mount Livinia still ahead of us during the next 9 days, Sri Lanka has proved to be both personally fascinating and also very relaxing. Credit to Jodie from Vida Travel in South Yarra for her incredible job in planning our itinerary meticulously, including organising Prasaana- our sensational driver whilst in Sri Lanka.

So while Australia remains the best country in the world, Sri Lanka has emerged in me, as the paradise my parents had to leave behind in order to give my siblings and I, the best possible chance in life. I feel very blessed to have this chance to come home.

With Kindest and Warm Regards to all and seeing you from August 25th,

Bernie Silva.

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Silva’s Indian Odyssey

Singapore: Clean, disciplined, organised and humid!

India: The land of obscene contrasts…a place where the most expensive ‘old money’ estates in the world are nestled among the most unspeakably poverty-ridden stretches of road I have ever seen.

Where the main roads are relatively smooth and well-designed but the peoples’ use of them is more aligned to extreme rally car racing! The ‘line’ between civilised and uncivilised is a car horn, which can be heard throughout the day and night! You can be traveling at good speed only to be halted abruptly by another traffic jam. As the countless buses, three-wheeled taxis, cars, vans, trucks, motorbikes, bicycles and pedestrians sort themselves into the three clearly marked lanes available, the cause of the delay becomes clear; it is one single man pushing a bike which is trailing a massive cargo of unseen objects. He pushes that bike up the bridge in the incredibly humid conditions as horns ring out endlessly behind him. As more agile road users pass him by, there is a quiet sense of acceptance that at least this delay was unavoidable.

Other than these occasions, Indians show no patience or manners at all on their roads- but it makes every trip for a weary Australian traveler- no matter how long or short that trip, a hair-raising adventure!

The contrasts continued today as I read in the local paper, that 921 million of the estimated 1.3 billion Indian population are mobile phone subscribers. Yet, we have too regularly seen so many spit, urinate and defecate in plain view along Indian streets! I guess it is better than paying, as you are expected to do here at many tourist attractions or stores across rural India. So many people are filthy as they live every waking minute among roaming animals, rubbish, the debris of dismantled buildings and a stifling humidity. All to scratch out some semblance of a comfortable existence for themselves or their family.It can get very depressing until you notice some smartly dressed businessman or beautifully dressed woman in her elaborate sari emerge from a shop or cross the road in front of you. India is indeed, a place where the filthy rich appear to make their fortune right in among and from, the just plain ‘filthy’ masses.

Perhaps this explains why people seem disconnected from one-another… Despite the overwhelming majority sharing a similar plight, as seen in their often excruciatingly polite manner toward tourists, they can just as easily leave you cold and forgotten when there is no sale to be made. People are loyal and loving to family and friends, but being friendly lasts only as long as a financial transaction. Such is the grinding, competitive and relentless nature of the life in India for the catastrophically stressed majority.

However, Dana and I have also seen some awe-inspiring sites: from Agra and Amber Forts, thriving markets, beautiful palaces to of course, the aptly identified and simply incredible wonder of the world, ‘The Taj Mahal’. India definitely has a proud and long history and Dana and I feel very privileged and blessed to have experienced just a small ‘spice’ of it. The service and food standard have been very high overall, and these factors almost completely make up for the persistently annoying street vendors who accompany you down the street in the belief that repeating the words ‘excuse me, sir/maddaaaaam’ are the unique tickets into your wallet!

Don’t be fooled either, by the heartbreaking appearance of countless populations of beggars. They are magnetised to and accost tourists on just about every street corner of any Indian city. Many children and mothers with their small children earn more than the average Indian office worker in a day. They know who to target to exploit and who they should simply ignore. No matter what amount you chose to give, it will not be enough to stop them asking for more.

For this reason, India has been extremely confronting and at times, very upsetting for me. A compromise to the guilt I felt from being advised to ignore the eyes of a dirty child begging for money for food, was to buy that food for as many of the children who begged us for money as practically possible. In an extreme case of irony, this Australian tourist would use his mobile phone to tell more people of this soul-lifting compromise, but unlike 920 million Indians- so many of whom clearly cannot really afford it, I do not own a mobile to use.

So with these extreme contrasts and the internal conflict India stirs in me, I prepare for my journey into my homeland, Sri Lanka- now just two days away.

With Kind Regards from Deli and of course, missing Australia and you all,

Bernie Silva and Dana

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Mount Erin IDOL Poll

Week 7 of Term 2 signalled the beginning of MESEM’s annual ‘Mount Erin Idol’ event. For weeks, auditions and rehearsals prepared the 24 brave singers who would eventually, take to the MESEM stage for IDOL 2012.

A small army of MESEM volunteers sacrificed considerable time preparing the stage, lights and sound. Their efforts and teamwork was absolutely outstanding! While these are often thankless tasks, it was extremely pleasing to note how supportive and respectful the overwhelming majority of students were. Few colleges have such an extensive range of high quality of events for its students to enjoy throughout the year. I’m certain that this fact was not lost on the 500 or so students and staff who attended IDOL 2012 throughout last week.

A massive thanks to the magnificent MESEM crew for their hard work!

Another sincere thanks to the judges who gave up 5 consecutive lunchtimes to judge IDOL and develop the top 12 singers eligible for the remaining three places in Peninsula Songfest, another event hosted by MESEM and to be held in our own college auditorium this Friday 8th June, from 6:30pm. Thank you to Ms Pudney, Ms BenVenuti, Ms Adams and Mr Kaighin for having the unenviable task of adjudicating the most closely constested Idol since its inception 4 fours ago. Thank you.

The three finalists will join Rebekah S. (Year 12) in representing Mount Erin against representatives from at least 5 other colleges across the Mornington Peninsula. Tickets cost $5 and can be purchased at the door. We hope to see you there to support our four talented singers.

While the performers anxiously await the results of this year’s Idol finalists, MESEM will continue to hold a number of entertaining events for week 8 of Term 2, including: Monday’s Teacher Karaoke, Tuesday’s Mount Erin’s Got Talent and TFI LIVE, (Teacher Band) on this Friday!

So, students, get onto the blog address below and cast your vote now, for your favourite IDOL singer. Note that each student gets one vote and that voting begins Monday 4th June and concludes on Wednesday 6th June at recess. The Audience IDOL and the three judges finalists will be announced at lunchtime on Wednesday 6th June, just prior to the MESEM Gig debut of Rebekah S.

IDOL Weekly ticket holders are reminded that their tickets are valid for all events taking place during this week, including Peninsula Songfest!

Stay tuned for more about the remarkable achievements of your student voice! Until then, don’t forget to vote and enjoy the spectacular photo gallery below, courteousy of our official photographers, Jasmine, Ella, Carly and Ms Kirk!

Follow the link and instructions below to cast your vote for Audience IDOL 2012.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HX9CFKP

User Name: mesemidol

Password: type in your distinct 7 character student code

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With Kind Regards,

Sarah F.

College Captain

(MESEM ARTS Coordinator)

Perfect Revolution ROCK the Auditorium!

Yet another superb live act graced the Mount Erin Auditorium. This time, it was Sydney based act, The Perfect Revolution. Ben and Jackson came to Mount Erin on Friday 20th April and performed 6 songs, including a number of mash-ups of contemporary hits. The good crowd were astounded by the pair’s vocal and guitaring skills and left pretty satisfied with the show.

A huge thanks are in order for Molly and Sophie of Year 10 for securing the gig and the MESEM team for sponsoring and staging the event. Just another example of how MESEM Student Leadership works tirelessly to provide entertaining events or opportunities for people to shine!

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The Mount Erin Community can look forward to further live entertainment from a number of LIVE acts including Blackwater Riff, As the City Sleeps and Brighter at Night. Dates will be confirmed shortly.

Until then, the college anxiously awaits the onslaught of MOUNT ERIN IDOL, scheduled to begin on Monday May 28th, running until Friday June 1st. Teacher Karaoke, Mount Erin’s Got Talent and teacher band, TFI will also take the MESEM stage between Monday June 3rd and Friday June 8th. Weekly tickets (on sale now) cost $5 and gets ticket holders access to all 8 days of live entertainment.

On behalf of the MESEM Student Leadership team, I also cordially invite all students, parents and friends to see Peninsula Songfest, to be held from 6:30pm in our college Auditorium on Friday June 8th. This annual regional singing competition is an exceptional night of entertainment where High School singers across the Mornington Peninsula come to Mount Erin to compete against the winners of Mount Erin Idol. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased from Monday May 28th from the front office.

MESEM truly ROCKS!

With Kind Regards,

Bernie Silva

MESEM/SRC Coordinator

Mount Erin leaders visit Frankston Hospital

Last Thursday, two of our College Captains Tawanda and Jamie and Senior Leader Chris joined Principal Karen Lee in visiting the Frankston Hospital. Invited by Joan, the Oncology Department Matron, Mount Erin representatives were treated to a tour of the cancer treatment rooms and afternoon tea.

Discussions were held about how we can strengthen the partnership between Mount Erin College and the Oncology Department of the Frankston Hospital. We also saw first hand how our college’s ‘Shave to Save Lives’ fundraising is improving the quality of care the facility provides for cancer sufferers. Our $3750 last year purchased the monitor seen in the photos below. The Oncology Department use this precious machine to ensure patient’s levels are within the normal range before, during and after treatments. It is our fundraising which enabled the Frankston Hospital to purchase this vital machine. It was clear from our discussions with Joan and the nurses that this machine has already had and will continue to have, a dramatic impact on the facility’s ability to treat the many cancer patients who travel to the Frankston Hospital for regular treatment. This partnership will only strengthen further with the $1300 MESEM will be donating after ‘Shave 2012’.

I pass on the sincere appreciation and thank yous of the entire Oncology Department for the generosity shown by the Mount Erin College Community. If you have any doubt whether MESEM fundraising is making a difference in the community, I hope this entry and the photos below put them to rest. Great job to the student leadership team and our three student leadership representatives for creating these opportunities to improve the quality of life for others in our community.

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MESEM Junior and Senior Basketball Premiers decided… plus, ‘Burning in White’ rock the Auditorium!

After 30 preliminary matches between 12 teams, it came down to two Grand Final games. In the MESEM Senior 3 on 3 Basketball tournament, it was the undefeated “The LADS” to take on the challengers, “DUNN’S TRIO”.

Meanwhile, across the GYM court, MESEM’s Junior 3 on 3 Basketball Grand Final was to be fought out by the Year 7 undefeated girl’s team, “The TROUBLEMAKERS” who were to take on the challengers, the Year 9 outfit, “OFFAL JIM JAMS”. Both Grand Finals were held during the lunch break on Thursday 29th March in the college gymnasium. Both were played in great spirit and sportspersonship in front of a modest crowd of onlookers.

In two upsets, both Junior and Senior challengers came out triumphant to be announced as Premiers for 2012. Hence, the Junior Premiers are “OFFAL JIM JAMS with the Tournament MVP going to its prized recruit, Matt T. Meanwhile, though Adam B. from “The Lads” won the Senior Tournament MVP, it was not enough to secure the Senior Premiership, which this year, goes to “DUNN’S TRIO”.

A magnificent effort from all four teams to make the grand finals and to the MESEM crew of referees, organisers and scorers. Special mention to Ellie B., Sam H. and Jack A. for their support throughout a long two week period and to Kristin W. for her excellent photos. Thanks also to Mr Sydenham for refereeing the Senior Grand Final. Congratulations to MESEM’s Junior and Senior 3 on 3 Premiers- enjoy the photos below and the spoils of being immortalised on the perpetual trophies kept in A13.

24 hours later, “Burning in White” made their debut on the college circuit in our own Auditorium! A powerful and blistering performance, full of energy and angst was observed and thoroughly enjoyed by the good crowd in attendance. Old collegian Matt Head broke the silence and humid auditorium air with soul shaking riffs and driving rhythms. His group played five tracks to send our grateful students into Period 4 and the Easter Holidays with their metal core songs ringing in their ears!

An awesome performance boys, and as I said, you are always welcome back to Mount Erin College.

Let your senses take a wonder and check out”Burning in White” on Facebook.

(http://www.facebook.com/pages/Burning-In-White/211046298940776)

Otherwise, enjoy the photos from a big final week in Term 2 below…

Have a restful Easter break and look forward to Mount Erin Idol, Peninsula Songfest, Indoor Soccer and Open Netball during Term 2.

Silva

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‘Shave to Save Lives’ Raises $3800 for Peter Mac and Frankston Oncology.

It is already the end of Term 1. MESEM have planned and executed two whole-school assemblies, five free Year Level Barbeques, elected Form Captains, Year Level Leaders and Senior Leaders across the college, coordinated the annual Junior and Senior 3 on 3 Basketball Trophy tournaments and as recently as Tuesday 27th March, run its first CHARITY DAY for 2012.
I am extremely proud to announce on behalf of the MESEM Student Leadership Team, that Mount Erin College will be donating a grand total of $3800 to help find a cure for cancer.
This is a phenomenal achievement, lead by 18 brave souls who sat before a good crowd in our college gym to have their heads shaved last Tuesday 27th March. All 14 student ‘shave’ volunteers from Years 7 to 12 raised at least $50 to add our casual dress proceeds of $745 on the day. Mitchell J. ($580), Chris L. ($398) and William F. ($333) contributed over $1300 between them! A magnificent fundraising effort by all involved, especially these three committed individuals!
Thanks also to the many staff who took time out from their lunch breaks to support this important cause and our student leadership team who coordinated the event.
A huge thank you to Sarah Funke, Jess May and the army of student leaders who worked tirelessly to make the event the success it became. To my brave colleagues Ms. Seach, Ms. Bourke, Ms. Wearne and Ms. Davis; may your sacrifice inspire next years students to put their scalps on the line to win the ongoing war against cancer!
Also a sincere acknowledgement of Mr Mark Humphries who spoke passionately to the crowd before the shave event started and to Joan who represented the Frankston Hospital Oncology Unit. Thanks also to Mrs Grigg and Mrs Graham who represented Parents Connect and the wider college community on the day. Parent involvement is always welcome at Mount Erin College!
Mark will be riding across Victoria during late October on the Ride to Conquer Cancer. We continue to be humbled and inspired by the way Mark keeps his love for Cinty and her legacy alive in his work for the Peter Mac foundation. I am certain I speak for all of the MESEM team and those who had their heads shaved on Tuesday, that shaving our heads or contributing our gold coins is the smallest sacrific we can make if it means our scientists can find a cure for cancer. Charities Coordinator and College Captain Elly W. will decide the final distribution of our fundraising between ‘Team Cinty’ and the Frankston Hospital Oncology Department. However, it seems likely that $2500 will be donated to Team Cinty so Jo Davis can represent our college as she embarks on the Ride to Conquer Cancer  with Mark while the remaining $1300 will be forwarded to the Frankston Hospital Oncology Unit.
Our College Captains will travel to the Frankston Hospital in April to see first hand, how the college’s donations are being used.
By the time you read this message, it may just be that the Senior and Junior 3 on 3 Basketball premiers will have been decided! In the Junior division, the undefeated Year 7 girls in “The Troublemakers” were to take on the Year 9 boys of “Offal Jim Jams“… meanwhile, in the senior division, the undefeated “The Lads” were to take on “Dunn’s Trio“. Both games are scheduled for Thursday 29th March at lunchtime in the gym.
With Indoor Soccer Shields and Open Netball tournaments, Mount Erin Idol and Peninsula Songfest to look forward to during Term 2, MESEM will again, be at the absolute forefront of influencing an extremely positive, active and supportive college culture.
Until then, please enjoy the photos taken by Mr Agg, Miss Kirk and student leaders below, taken from the Shave to Save Lives Charity Day!
I wish everyone a restful and peaceful Easter break,
With Kind Regards,
Mr Bernie Silva

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