Dear Mr Tait
My name is Lauri Teperson, I graduated from Masada college in 2012 and attended Masada all my life. I’m sure you don’t remember me but you were my principal for some of my primary years. My friends and I always remembered you as the principal with the big smile and even bigger clap!
I recently returned from a month long volunteer trip to Vanuatu where I spent two weeks conducting health checks in rural villages and then extended my stay to also do two weeks teaching and assisting in a kindergarten. The purpose of my trip was initially to gain work experience to build up my resume, as the common denominator for me not succeeding at my numerous interviews for a Dietitian role, was my lack of post graduate experience.
One of our last days of conducting health checks was in a village we had not yet visited, ’mele ycc’. It was a small village, only 70 people, but each and every resident showed up to get their health check. I was on the first station that day where we collected: height, weight, waist and hip circumferences. People were entering the community hall one by one and our pace was quick. Working conditions were challenging in what felt like 500% humidity, sweat pouring off our faces, no amount of water rehydrating us and children running around and babies crying. One by one residents entered the hall requesting a health check. One resident, no different to any other entered. He gave his name, date of birth etc. I looked at him and absolutely froze. He was the same as everyone else, except he was wearing a shirt that was very different to every other, at least in my eyes. ‘Where did you get your shirt?’ I asked the man. He looked at me blankly indicating he couldn’t understand my English. I turned to another lady to translate for me. She did but he responded by shrugging his shoulders. Some residents thought it was brought by an Australian sporting team that came to Vanuatu (I thought unlikely), others said it was simply donated. I went on to explain the origin of the shirt; that it was my school’s sport uniform, that at the school I attended in Sydney Australia, when we had sport class we would wear this uniform. I went on to explain every component of the symbol including what and where Masada is, the language the writing at the bottom is written in and what it means, that ‘masada’ is the name of my school, and the meaning of the olive branches and their origin. It is safe to say I remained in shock for the duration of the day.
After I got over the initial shock I was still hung up on how this Judah shirt got to this small village in Vanuatu, and furthermore, why it was there… was it because a student had graduated and simply didn’t need it anymore? Or was it because the student’s shirt was in innaprpriate condition to be worn at school and thus kindly donated it? If the latter; to this man, this shirt was like any other. Just a shirt he could clothe himself in, despite its tears and stains and worn out material. I then went on to think how incredibly lucky we are to live the lives we do , with all of our needs and wants at our fingertips.
It reminded me of my years at Masada; the school and family that shaped much of who I am today, and it reminded me a lot of the values I learnt in my years there; giving back to your community, helping those less fortunate and pushing yourself farther than you think you can.
I then instantly thought of Mrs barrel who’s heart would have been so warmed by this moment. I really do wish I could have had the opportunity to show her and tell her the story. So I am going to email Isaac and tell him on her behalf.
Mr Tait please do show the staff and feel free to share with the students if you wish, and know that this moment truly was one of the biggest highlights of my whole trip.
My Fondest regards,