From worlds apart, unique friendship blossoms
author: Paul Nolan
From worlds apart, a unique bond has been forged between two Year 7 students in their first year at St Patrick’s College.
Eric Yang hails from the bustling Nanjing metropolitan region in China, about 305km west of Shanghai, along with 30 million other residents. He is the first international Year 7 student to enrol as a boarder in the new St Patrick’s College boarding precinct.
Dwayne Hayes hails from Ali Curung in the Northern Territory, 380 km north of Alice Springs, along with 493 other people. He is the first Indigenous student from a remote community to commence their boarding education in Year 7 in the new St Patrick’s College boarding precinct.
Yet while their paths to Ballarat could not have been more different, their journeys with the green, white and blue are now intertwined.
The College’s Director of Boarding Mike Silcock said it had been a joy to watch a unique friendship bloom in such a small amount of time.
“These two young men, born worlds apart have formed the closest of friendships here as boarders at St Patrick’s College,” Mr Silcock said.
“Their amazing bond is clear evidence of the wonderfully (celebrated) diversity that exists within boarding at the College, bringing together two very different young men to journey together through school.
“There are so many anecdotes or memories that could be shared about their time together in boarding and this is just in the short space of time that they have been with us.
“They take great delight in telling us (usually over lunch when they both come and park themselves on our staff table) what the other has been doing (or doing wrong!!).
“And when Dwayne scored a try in his first game playing Under 13 rugby for the College, the first to congratulate him was his team mate Eric.”
It is not just in the boarding house though where these two boys’ impact is being felt.
In the halls of the Junior School and in the Year 7 classrooms, both Dwayne and Eric are being recognised by their peers as future leaders of St Patrick’s College.
“Both Dwayne and Eric were recently appointed as Year 7 Form Captains and were elected by their peers,” Mr Silcock said.
“They are two of our four Year 7 boarders who are thriving amongst a wider Year 7 cohort of some 234 students.
“We see their achievements and their friendship as further proof of the ‘complete’ or ‘total’ support that boarding can provide our younger students, providing them a platform to excel.”
It is hoped that Dwayne’s and Eric’s early success can pave the way for more younger boarders from diverse backgrounds to attend the College and provide new life to Ballarat.
“It is really great to see these boys succeed as we pushed so hard for both an International program and acceptance of younger Indigenous boarders,” Mr Silcock said.
“Whilst we will always judge each potential enrollee on their merit (readiness) – these two have just excelled in the environment we are able to create. It has been a real highlight to our boarding year to see the friendship these two have formed.”
The story of Dwayne and Eric is just one of the many thousand untold stories of boys excelling at St Patrick’s College.
While some of the high-profile College events attract the accolades, and controversies can often dominate the headlines, it can be easy to lose sight of the wonderful little things that occur around St Patrick’s College minute-by-minute.
“The friendship between Dwayne and Eric is a great example of a real feel-good moment from St Patrick’s College,” Acting Co-Headmaster Mr Stephen Hill said.
“Every day our students and our staff are weaving a fine network of strong relationships, built on the back of meaningful interaction all with a commitment to the greater good.
“We are always encouraging our boys to become better men, to build relationships based on respect, to be compassionate, aspirational, honourable and filled with hope.
“There are myriad ways this philosophy becomes reality in day-to-day life at St Patrick’s College.”
Mr Hill said many in the St Patrick’s College community should take pride in these day-to-day achievements such as our boys volunteering their time to tutor refugee students in western Melbourne, or others running Easter Egg drives before dressing as the Easter Bunny to visit sick children at the Ballarat Health Services – Base Hospital.
“We also have boys volunteering to work at soup vans,” Mr Hill said.
“And we had our Year 10 students sleep outside overnight in May to gain a greater appreciation of the plight of the homeless.
“We also have our Year 9 students working on a variety of community-based projects every two weeks as part of their curriculum.
“All these worthwhile tasks are centred around building relationships and teaching our boys how to respect others and to work for the greater good of the community.
“Hopefully that environment enables friendships like Dwayne’s and Eric’s to flourish and grow for many decades to come.”