12 October 2023

Belonging

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As we return to school after the recent holiday break, I find myself reflecting on the enriching experiences and meaningful connections I made during this time. The break provided me an opportunity to explore and reconnect, reminding me of the essential element of belonging in our lives, both within our school community and in the broader world.

During this reflective period, I also read the book Belonging by Owen Westwood. The book beautifully explores the concept of belonging, drawing upon stories of sports teams and individuals, emphasising the importance of shared purpose, values and relationships in achieving success. Owen explores how the idea of belonging is intricately woven into the fabric of our lives, resonating with our experiences in both our personal and professional spheres.

One significant journey I embarked on during the holidays was a visit to the North Island of New Zealand. This trip was a family reunion of sorts where we visited and stayed with my husband’s uncle and his wife, where we had the privilege of spending quality time with family members and being immersed in the Māori culture. The village of Matakana, with its picturesque landscapes and friendly locals, provided a perfect setting to deepen our family bonds and appreciate the importance of belonging.

The trip to New Zealand emphasised the vital notion of whakapapa, which Owen explores in his book, and which translates to genealogy or heritage. It encompasses a deeper understanding of one's roots, family connections and a sense of belonging to a larger community. It was inspiring to witness how deeply embedded this concept is in the Māori culture, reinforcing the value of belonging and connection with the community.

In alignment with the themes of belonging, I also had the opportunity to visit my hometown of Launceston, Tasmania, for the first time since before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This visit was an enriching experience as I got to spend valuable time with my mum, sister, aunty, nieces and great-nephew. The sense of belonging within my own family was palpable, reinforcing the idea that no matter where we go or what we do, our roots and connections are an integral part of our identity.

Now, how does all this relate to our Carey community? Our school community is a microcosm of the larger world, a place where belonging, relationships and connections are paramount. We often speak about the ‘Carey family’ and the sense of unity and support that defines us. Just like the concepts of whakapapa and the bonds within our own families, our school community thrives on our shared sense of purpose, values and belonging. In times of need or challenge, the strength of the Carey community truly shines.

As we navigate the final term of the school year, let us cherish the spirit of belonging within our school community and recognise its profound impact on our student's lives. I am looking forward to celebrating the many connections we have within the Carey community across the term and sharing in the journey of growth and learning with your child.

Wishing you all a wonderful term ahead, filled with a strong sense of belonging, support and celebration.

Kylie Baxter
Head of Junior School Kew

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