What is Harmony Week?
You may have heard of Harmony Day or Harmony Week and not been 100% sure what it is or what it means to your students. At its core, Harmony Week is a celebration of the different cultures that make up our communities. With 49% of Australians being born overseas or having a parent who was born overseas, Australia is a uniquely multicultural nation and celebrating that diversity is an opportunity for us to grow closer with the people around us.
Embedded within our cultural diversity is the customs, traditions, languages, beliefs, and history of our communities. Whether it be a tradition from thousands of years ago or something you say every day, helping others to understand these cultural differences helps us to think and act differently, reduces discrimination, and broadens our minds to new and old ideas.
Celebrating Harmony Week is more important to your students than you may realise.
Bridging the gap between cultures, however, can be really difficult. The feeling of being misunderstood by your peers and the people you respect is disheartening and can lead to conflict. That is why an event like Harmony Week can be so important. It’s an opportunity to reflect on where we’ve come from, embrace the elements of our culture that can carry us all forward, and do it in a way that pre-frames students to be open to sharing these parts of their culture that may otherwise seem daunting to bring up in public.
4 Ways You Can Celebrate Harmony Week
1. Cultural Cooking Day
Food brings people together. You know, we know it. Food is also an integral part of a culture’s fabric. It is weaved with stories and ingredients that hold a special spot in the history of your community and can be exciting to share.
This Harmony Week, you can hold a cultural cooking day for your class. Everyone brings a meal that is linked to their culture and brings enough of it to share. It’s like a massive pot-luck except every meal is a growth opportunity. Ask your students to prepare a meal to share with the class, and also prepare some key information about what that meal is and why it matters in your culture.
For bonus points, you can bring decorations to match the meal too.
2. Multicultural Music Appreciation
Singing, dancing, music! It’s been around as long as we have and it isn’t going anywhere.
Music is a method for cultures to share experiences and tell stories. Huge cultural milestones can be marked by music: weddings, blowing out our birthday candles, scoring a goal. Holidays around the world have distinct music that accompanies them, and different countries have whole festivals and events centred around parades of music and celebration.
Have a day where you play multicultural music over the PA speakers or in class. If you have a music department, maybe you can ask to teach some multicultural music lessons or have students perform music.
3. Model Cultural Storytelling
The stories we tell to make sense of the world around us are pivotal elements of our cultures and heritage. This is a great element of culture to explore for Harmony Week as students will find it fascinating – it also requires little in terms of resources as most of these stories are now copyright free and available for everyone to read, enjoy and reflect on.
Make sure you pitch the storytelling to your year group and are making it engaging for the students you are working with. One of the best ways to create a space for students to share cultural stories is for you to model it. Take some time to share with your class some of your cultural heritage. What stories are embedded within your culture that you can draw upon? How have some of these stories helped to define your interaction with your culture and community?
By leading the way and modeling what this storytelling can look like, you can then open up the floor to the students to do the same or to have conversations with their friends around their culture.
4. Promote Local Community Events
Harmony week is filled to the brim with local community events celebrating different cultures, so look around! To make it easier, the team at Harmony Week have put together a shared calendar of events from areas around Australia that you can draw upon to see what is near you or to register your own.
Take a look here to see if there is something you could engage your students in nearby!
Appreciating Diversity is the Key
Harmony Week is about appreciating the diversity of cultures and celebrating that which makes us unique. But it doesn’t end with this week, and it doesn’t stop at just cultures.
It’s important we take the time to appreciate the diversity of others around us and understand that what makes us different and unique are strengths of ours.
If you’d like some resources to help you achieve this, Burn Bright has developed online courses for your students that tackle the concept of appreciating diversity and are designed to cater to students of all age groups. To see more about these and how to get access, take a look at our Digital Programs here.