Multicultural Heart

When entering the college chapel at Indooroopilly, one of the first things people tend to notice are the bright and colourful flags lining the walls. These flags provide a strong visual representation of the over 60 countries in which our students and their parents were born. At Springfield, languages become a feature of the community, where at least 24 languages – other than English – are spoken at home.

On Tuesday, more than 2,000 students, staff and parents from the Indooroopilly community lined the chapel forecourt for the Flag Ceremony; as students, often dressed in national costume, walked with the flags of their countries. The Lord’s Prayer was spoken in 15 different languages by native speakers. The message spoken was that God is at the heart of the rich and diverse community to which he has called us. We are many cultures because this is God’s gift in creation, and all our lives are enriched through this diversity.

Being a multicultural school community is never about providing ways of remaining separate from one another in our community groups, nor is it about assimilating us all under a traditional western Christian banner. The Gospel of Christ calls us to more than that! We can use the understanding of God as Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – as how we are called to live as a multicultural community. The Trinity is not about assimilation – the Trinity is about uniqueness and unity held together by the heart of God. So, too, our calling in Christ as a multicultural school is not a call to assimilation.

There is another descriptive term that speaks out of our life in Christ and of how we live as this multicultural community: cross-cultural! Being cross-cultural is about living together in respectful relationships – living out logo of the heart with a cross at its centre. It is about how we are called to live out our life in Christ through faith. It is about journeying between our own and other cultures, and showing understanding and respect.

This prayer, written by a student for the celebration, sums it up beautifully:

‘God of all nations, we praise you today for all the people of our school. Thank you for the amazing gifts and experiences that each person brings to our school. Strengthen the bonds of friendship between peoples of all races and ages; that we may lean on each other in times of trouble. May we strive to be more like you, to love everyone despite their age, situation, values or ethnicity.

‘We pray for acceptance and tolerance of each other’s beliefs, that we can form strong relationships between cultures. Let us work in harmony together and put aside differences which come between us. Let us be patient and understanding of those around us, allowing us to work together to create a caring community of St Peters.

‘In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.’

Kirstin Munchenberg, Indooroopilly Chaplain