Staff Profile: Maria Dunbar

Maria Dunbar with the mural she commissioned for her home in Fiji

Maria Dunbar with the mural she commissioned for her home in Fiji

Maria Dunbar is currently Acting Coordinator of Service Learning, while George Huitker is on leave. Due to the global COVID-19 situation, she is in Canberra between international teaching engagements in Fiji (till end of 2020) and an appointment in China, now due to start mid-2021.  

Communications Manager, Mick Bunworth, contacted Maria to learn more about her story. 

Q: Recently you’ve been working in international schools, why did you decide to return to Canberra? 

Maria: I’m actually between countries – I finished in Fiji in Dec, and was meant to be in Nanjing in April, however because of COVID the date for my start in China has now been pushed back to June. I was in Canberra visiting family in January, and saw this role advertised on the IB Australasia website. It looked incredibly interesting, so I sent off my CV. 

Q: You’re currently overseeing Radford’s Service Learning program. What attracted you to the role? 

Maria: I’m a strong advocate for incorporating Service into schools for a number of reasons. Service provides students with the opportunity to learn more about local and global issues and communities,  to see the world through a different perspective, and to help students realise that they are able to do something to change the world they live it for the better. 

In addition, Radford has a great reputation. I was living in Canberra in the early 1980s when it  started being built, and have watched its reputation grow over the years. It’s such a pleasure to be working in such a terrific school, with amazing students and staff. 

Q: You were featured in the Canberra Times last year for your interest in murals and art. Would you say there is a connection between art and service? 

Maria: I believe Service can be connected to any area ….there are so many ways of giving back to communities and the world around us. At Radford College, students provide Service across a huge range of activities, from helping in the sports department, RAID basketball, OzHarvest, helping at Cranleigh and Black Mountain Schools, the L’Arche Disco, and with the Radford Art show - just to name a few. 

While in Fiji, Maria kept in touch with life in Canberra by reading the Canberra Times online. She read a story published in June 2020 about Canberra residents commissioning large murals for their homes and decided to commission a local designer,  Sarah Toganivalu, and local artists, Kath Reade and Judy Tilbury,  to create one for her then-home in Fiji.  In August 2020, Canberra Times published a follow-up article about Maria’s mural, completing the circle, so to speak.

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