Sustaining Language and Cultures: Borneo and beyond – 9-10 August 2017
By Allison Stewart
In August 2017, Rosemary Gundjarranbuy, Mirrmirryun Beulah Munyarryun (Mimi) and myself flew to Kuching via Singapore to attend an international conference with Wendy Kennedy, Manager of the CDU Adult Literacy and Numeracy team and Lorraine Sushames, the CDU VET, LLN Business Development Manager. We attended at the invitation of the Dean of the Faculty of Language and Communication Professor Ambigapathy Pandian at the University of Malaysia.
The Conference showcased language and cultural preservation, and teaching efforts in Malaysia and aimed to “empower researchers, practitioners, Indigenous communities and leaders to pave the way for a sustainable future for languages and cultures in the region.”
We jointly delivered a presentation called “Advancing Indigenous adult English LLN in northern Australia’s remote regions - while remembering the importance of local language and culture”. Attending an overseas conference and delivering a paper was a new experience for us, and it took courage. We delivered our presentation to an auditorium of people on day two where we spoke about WCE and the Strategic project on LLN and about the central importance of first language literacy and the preservation of language. For Rosemary and Mimi it was much harder because English is not their first language.
The University of Malaysia gave us a warm welcome and organised a visit to an Indigenous community on the day after the conference where many of the questions that Rosemary had sent over in advance about bi-lingual education and how things are done in Malaysia were answered. We were grateful to CDU, to WCE and to the University of Malaysia for the opportunity to attend this very worthwhile event.