by Marilyn Wall
Cultural awareness embraces Ngapartji-Ngapartji
These were some of the opening words shared by Basil and Rosalind Coleman as they took the LCA churchwide office staff on a cultural awareness journey during their recent staff day.
Ngapartji-Ngapartji (pronounced Nup-art-gee Nup-art-gee) is a Pitjantjatjara word meaning working both ways … together. This describes what is important in developing strong positive intercultural relationships and partnerships … where we intentionally seek and value what we learn from each other through ‘working both ways’, Aboriginal and other non-Aboriginal peoples, together. This concept of two-way learning is not isolated to just one language group for I have heard this phrase repeated in other Aboriginal languages.
Basil, a Kokatha man was born at Koonibba (SA) and grew up in the surrounding areas, while Rosalind, is a proud Narungga women from the Yorke Peninsula (SA) who also has connection to the Kaurna people (Adelaide Plains) through her mother’s ancestral line.
The LCA’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) reminds us that fundamental to developing a greater respect for First Nations peoples is growing our knowledge and cultural awareness – and to use our words, learning to hear more clearly, the Indigenous voice.
Basil and Rosalind have a wealth of experiences and background in delivering cultural awareness, and as Christians themselves, felt honoured to take the churchwide staff on this journey. They explained that Aboriginal cultural awareness, is about developing a knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal peoples’ histories, values, belief systems, experiences and lifestyles. It is not about … becoming an expert on Aboriginal cultures, rather, as they explained … “It’s about being aware of the culture differences that exist, appreciating and having an understanding of those differences, and accepting them.”
We know of course that the development of cultural awareness is ongoing as we seek to strengthen our relationships with one another.
Marilyn Wall is the LCA’s RAP Project Officer