LOCAL Kylie Chenery was one of 16 students who were chosen for scholarships from the Australian Catholic University's (ACU) various faculties from seven campuses across Australia, to study the subject 'Understanding Self and Society' in Paris for two weeks.
As part of the university's mission and identity all students attending the Australian Catholic University must complete two core subjects. These subjects are a unique feature and aim to produce students that are not only technically sound, but are able to think critically, ethically and reflectively upon issues related to human dignity, human flourishing, the common good, and social justice issues.
Apart from visiting the regular tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles, the students will be given unique site visits related to the course content.
For example two scheduled visits include the Relief Program for the Homeless in French Train Stations and the Volunteer Program of the Paris Foreign Missions Society.
"It has been really hard work driving from Cooma to Canberra studying over the three and a half a years," Kylie said.
"I also have a young family, work weekends at the local nursing home, and I couldn't have done it without the support of my wonderful husband. I am extremely grateful to be given such an amazing opportunity to learn more about other cultures and the subject of human dignity and how I can apply this knowledge to my chosen vocation of nursing."
Dr. Christiaan Jacobs-Vandegeer who teaches with the School of Theology at the ACU Melbourne Campus will be teaching the course in Paris to the Australian students as well as students from Paris, America and Central Africa.
"The unit focuses on the concept of human dignity and asks students to interpret and apply the concept to complex situations," he said.
"Over the course of the semester, students learn how to interpret the various meanings of human dignity and how these meanings are used in our personal and professional lives".
After admiring Mat Rumble's Aboriginal artwork that was displayed at the Cooma Show Kylie came up with the idea to showcase some of our local Indigenous talent in France whilst also providing a thank you gift to the host university, through commissioning a painting. The Dean of the Signadou Canberra campus Professor Patrick McArdle organised the funding.
Mat spent over 60 hours creating the unique 'education themed' artwork using Modern-Traditional Contemporary art. Talent runs in Mat's family, with Mat's 'Dad' Rod Mason soon to release a book on traditional land conservation of the Monaro region, and he also taught Mat the traditional Aboriginal painting techniques he uses. The painting also strongly features 'boulder and rock' themed artwork taught by his Dad.
"There is a strong spiritual connection to the rocks and boulders in our area," Mat said.
The artwork depicts people gaining knowledge at the Australian Catholic University with rocks featuring in the building, the foundations, and spiritual foundations holding the school together.
Themes include 'a place of learning', 'sharing and eating together', 'sitting quietly' and bright modern colours depict 'people from different races and varying levels of learning'. Traditional colours depict the boulders, snow, soil and the native long grasses of the region. Mat's own personal Christian faith is also brought out with the theme of having a rock for foundations, such as strength in faith and future.
"The reason I am painting and making our native artefacts is to keep our family and cultural practices alive and going strong to pass it on to the next generations," Mat said. "I also want to show our culture and heritage to the rest of the world so that other races and cultures can share in our Aboriginal culture and heritage."
Mat works at the local Cooma Crash Repairs and employer Nicki Tonini said he was privileged to work with mat.
"We feel very privileged to employ Mat who proudly represents his Aboriginal heritage. His dedication to our business is clearly reflected in his artwork. We are consistently blown away by his attention to detail, in all aspects, from his work, to his family, and to his beautiful art works."
Kylie heads off to Paris on June 21 and returns on July 6 proudly representing both the Australian Catholic University and Australia. Kylie was also the successful applicant for the mid-year intake for the Transition to Professional Practice Program at Cooma Health Service and is looking forward to starting in August.