Rhyming like Mem by Judy Natale IEC

As part of our Australian History studies in Transition HaSS, we look at mulit-culturalism and its important role in Australia’s growth and development. Last term, at the time we were studying this unit, I was reading a children’s book by Mem Fox called, “I’m Australian Too”; which is a collection of short poems, each of them about a different cultural group in Australia. It struck me that in working toward proficiency in English, IEC students may not have had many opportunities to explore poems, so I decided to read the book to them and challenge them to write their own ‘story’ as a homework activity, using the same pattern as Mem Fox (second and fourth line rhyming). Quite a few of the students from 3C and 3D had a go at writing their own. I was really proud of their first efforts to write a poem.

I asked the students if I could send their work to the author, as many of them represented cultures or countries which were not included in her book, and I thought she might find them interesting. At the same time we were looking at the conventions of a personal letter as a text type, so it was great to demonstrate an authentic link between what we had been studying in class and the outside world. To our surprise, Mem replied!

The letter from Mem Fox.

Here is a small selection of the students’ poems:

Philippines is in my heart,

A country we used to call home.

I came to Australia,

My new home with space to roam. 

How about you?

Erline, Philippines.

My family came from Malaysia,

The beaches here are our favourite, but sometimes a danger.

Fish and chips are delicious,

And no one is a stranger.

How about you?

Michael, Malaysia.

I was born in Vietnam,

The nation of real heroes.

Now I live in Australia,

Starting a new life from zero.

Everything was quite different at first,

But now life has a future.

How about you?

Nhu, Vietnam.

I came from Afghanistan, 

And was homesick every day.

But now I love Perth, 

And we are here to stay.

Life only comes once,

So do what makes you happy.

Forget all your sorrows,

And keep yourself healthy.

How about you?

Masooma, Afghanistan.

I come from Syria,

We are Syrian.

Now we live in Australia,

And we want to be Australian.

How about you?

Hellen, Syria.

My family were born in Myanmar, in a poor, small village, but big with trouble.

I grew up in Pakistan, high in the mountains overlooking the sea.

But now we all live together in Australia, 

Enjoying a new life, safe and free.

How about you?

Abraham, Myanmar.

I was born in the city of smiles,

Where the Philippines’ best grilled chicken is served.

I came to Australia and still learning new styles,

I’m still not used to it here, so I’ll just observe.

How about you?

Kriz, Philippines.