Empathy Program 2015 - Worn Soles

Student activities before the overnight experience

Student activities before the overnight experience

By Renae Woods: Head of Year 9

This specialised program in Year 9 is designed to introduce the idea of learning empathy through experience. The program is now in its fourth year and continues to grow and evolve. In many ways the notion of ?walking in someone else?s shoes? is the underlying principle of the Worn Soles Program (WSP). Coinciding with refugee week, students are encouraged to sleep out and experience the simulated conditions of a refugee-processing centre. They are further encouraged to listen to personal experiences and to challenge their own value systems when considering the plight of refugees. It is hoped that the program assists students to be better informed, more objective and rational in making decisions and forming opinions about refugees.

Another important component of the program is citizenship. It is only when students are able to empathise, sympathise and rationally examine facts that they can reach an informed position. Participating in,and being aware of, the national debate on refugees and the plight of others is fundamental to citizenship. The Worn Soles program is designed to consider the facts and evidence concerning refugees, with a particular emphasis on sharing their plight. In addition to this, students are introduced to the role of the United Nations in bringing about meaningful change in communities around the world. The roles of Australia?s forces and government agencies were also examined this year in relation to how Australia and Australians contribute to international relations, diplomacy and humanitarian aid programs around the world.

The Worn Soles program links in with the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities of Ethical Understanding and Intercultural Understandings, and many Year 9 subjects found ways to link into the two-week program. After experiencing the numerous workshops, guest speakers and the overnight simulation, students wrote reflections on different elements of the program. These reflections are attached as linked documents, so please feel free to read through their experiences and see some additional photos. Student reflections.

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