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Mt Carmel welcomes Vietnamese school


On Saturday afternoons when most school campuses across Adelaide are virtually empty, Mount Carmel College at Rosewater comes alive and is a hub of activity as 500 noisy and enthusiastic students fill the classrooms.

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The children range in age from early primary through to Year 12, but all share the common bond of their Vietnamese heritage. Most are second and third generation Vietnamese, and their parents and grandparents are the driving force behind ensuring that the language skills and values of their culture are passed on.

The classes they attend are run by the Dac-Lo Vietnamese Ethnic School, which began using Mount Carmel’s facilities at the start of Term 2.

The move to the college followed a frantic search for accommodation earlier this year after the school was told it would be unable to continue using the facilities at Woodville High due to renovations taking place there.

According to Dac-Lo deputy principal Binh Nguyen at one stage it looked as if the school might be forced to close its western branch as there didn’t appear to be any suitable options for accommodating such a large number of students.

However, their prayers for a new home were answered following a meeting with Archbishop Wilson in February. With a large number of students being Catholic, representatives from the school thought it was worth asking the Archbishop if any Catholic school campuses would be suitable for their needs.

“The Archbishop took it very seriously and promised to help the Vietnamese Catholic community in South Australia with this matter,” Mr Nguyen said.

“We were thrilled and so grateful to Archbishop Wilson when we heard the good news that Mount Carmel College was willing to host us. It was like a miracle as back at that time we did not think anyone could open their arms widely enough to accept us all.”

Mr Nguyen expressed his thanks to staff at the Catholic Education Office and Mount Carmel, particularly acting principal John Konopka and business manager David Cotton, for their support in assisting the school to relocate.

“The feedback from parents, teachers and students has been very positive,” he said.

“The children love the classrooms and they are still in a stage of exploring how great the Mount Carmel College is. The parents are also pleased with the facilities and the teachers are very happy with this final outcome.”

Mr Konopka said Mount Carmel was happy to assist Dac-Lo as the college was “very multicultural” and valued its connections with the broader community.

“We are passionate about diversity and feel it is a wonderful use of the school site on Saturdays,” he said.

The Dac-Lo school was established in 1983 by the Vietnamese Catholic community in South Australia in order to preserve the Vietnamese language and culture, and also to promote the language and culture to the wider Australian community. The school has two other branches operating in Adelaide, at Thomas More College and Pooraka Primary School, which together cater for a further 500 students.

BELOW: Celebrating the partnership between their two schools, from left, Binh Nguyen, deputy principal, Dac Lo; John Konopka, acting principal, Mount Carmel; Mgr Minh-Tam Nguyen, chaplain for the Vietnamese Catholic Community; David Cotton, business manager, Mount Carmel; and Hiep Nguyen, principal, Dac Lo.



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