Gladstone West State School students Clarita Pereze of Spain, Margil Rajaji of India, Mariam Taha of Egypt and Jaya Sivananthan of Sri Lanka. Photo Laura McKee
Gladstone West State School students Clarita Pereze of Spain, Margil Rajaji of India, Mariam Taha of Egypt and Jaya Sivananthan of Sri Lanka. Photo Laura McKee Laura Mckee

Gladstone school welcomes students from 47 countries

GLADSTONE West State School is leading the way in embracing multiculturalism, with 47 countries represented in their population.

From Kenya, Chile and Hungary to Vietnam, the primary school students have come from all over the world to live in Gladstone and learn at West.

The figure was released after a community survey was completed at the school. For most children, English is their second language.

Principal Margie Burrell took pride in the fact her pupils were so accepting of each other.

"The kids come with little English and then when they play with other kids they pick it up fast," she said.

Students from each country flew their flag at a Welcome To Country ceremony last week.

It was a welcoming event not just for the indigenous population but for all children.

It's an initiative Gooreng Gooreng elder Richard Johnson first introduced at the school.

"It gives our mob an opportunity to acknowledge the traditional owners but also it welcomes those other cultures as a part of growing up together," he said.

"What better place to do it than at a primary school?

Year 6 student Margil Rajaji hails from India and speaks Indian at home.

"I have been in Australia for five years," he said.

"It is clean here and how people pronounce names is different."

Mariam Taha is in Year 2 and arrived in Australia from Egypt in term 4 of 2014.

"The houses are very big here," she said.

"I lived with 17 or 18 of my family in my house in Egypt."

Mariam loves Gladstone West and her newest hobby is gymnastics.



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