A School Day In…

Term: 1 Year: 2017

The idea to build a connection between students in Kihato and Melbourne was inspired by the book Mirror (2010) by Jeannie Baker. She used collage illustrations to show the same day as experienced by two young boys and their families, one living in Morocco, the other in Sydney. The book was designed in such a way as to allow a direct ‘side by side’ comparison of their day. The Year 7 students in Kihato and Year 8 students in Melbourne looked at Mirror, and over six months created the artworks that resulted in a collaborative book.

Sandy Joffe, who was living in Kenya, became involved with Kihato Primary School, and worked intensively with a small group of students. While students made artworks, a combination of collage and drawings, they allowed Sandy to record their discussions during the day; about their interests, duties, communities and issues they see, such as poaching and conservation. She also made her iPad available to the students for specific photographs included in the book.

The students at Shelford Girls’ Grammar, worked on this project with Katrina Davey, then head of Humanities at the school, and the rest of the Year 7 Humanities staff. They studied aspects of life in Kenya through ‘Liveability’, a unit of the Humanities curriculum. Their collages were done over a semester. Andrew Zhang photographed all the works and these were then grouped into specific pages – depicting the school, home life, and aspects of Melbourne and Australia. A smaller group of students took some photographs and added comments.

Irene Metter, a film producer and graphic designer, worked to create a book that has two title pages. Each school’s story ends midway in the book, at which point, the reader closes the book and flips it over to start the second story.

We believe the book allowed both sets of students an insight into each other’s lives. The difference in resources available to the students in both schools is evident. So too is the strength of culture, through art, music and sport. Sandy and the Kihato students’ intensive work, especially with the recording of conversations, allowed for a more personal voice of hope to shine through the Kihato story.

This book has been purchased by several schools in the South-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, who have expressed a strong interest in doing similar projects with students in other parts of Australia, and other countries the schools have links with. A school in Footscray is planning to hold an annual fundraising event arranged by their own breakfast club.

Proceeds of book sales go to the breakfast program at the Kihato School. It is available at Avenue Bookstore in Elsternwick for $18.

Ieta D’Costa