SHARED EXPERIENCE: Indonesian students Dina and Juliawan in the classrom at Coffs Harbour Christian Community School.
SHARED EXPERIENCE: Indonesian students Dina and Juliawan in the classrom at Coffs Harbour Christian Community School.

Great exchange rate from Bali

A GROUP of Indonesian orphans has been given the chance of a lifetime by a Coffs Coast school.

For the past eight years students from Coffs Harbour Christian Community School at Bonville have travelled to remote parts of Bali to work in orphanages and learn more about our northern neighbours.

But Indonesian teacher Jonathon Petersen saw an opportunity to take the relationship to a new level.

Although teachers already make voluntary contributions from their salaries, Mr Petersen found no resistance when he asked them to open their wallets wider to bring eight orphans to Australia on exchange.

"Eight staff volunteered to put up $1500 out of their own private funds to bring them over," he said.

"A lot of kids at this school already know these children but they have only seen them in the context of going over there to help in the orphanage."

Mr Petersen said as well as helping learn Indonesian and English respectively, the students and staff from both countries were learning about the cultural divide.

"Our staff and students are learning about how many things we take for granted, like sleeping under a blanket or putting on a seatbelt, things the Indonesian children have no experience of," he said.

While Bali has hit the spotlight in Australia recently for the wrong reasons, Mr Petersen said the area the kids are from is worlds away from the tourist hot spots.

"The orphanage is right up in a remote village, these kids visit the city maybe once a year," he said.

The students will stay until June 19.



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