As published in The Border Watch.
Written by Jocelyn Nickels.
Fun times: Gay Lay Htoo and Ei Plu Soe get ready to try out surfing.
Migrants ‘step out of comfort zone’ to experience popular beach pastime
It was an experience of a lifetime for young South East refugees on Saturday as they took a dip in the ocean and tried the popular pastime of surfing.
The Karen, Karenni and Congolese members of the Migrant Resource Centre Youth Group soaked up the sunshine at Brown Beach.
Some had never been to a beach and only weeks ago arrived from refugee camps in Thailand, but coaching and guidance from members of the Christian Surfers South East allowed them to enjoy the thrill of riding waves.
Made possible with thanks to a Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal ABC Heywire Youth Innovation grant, the surfing session was a chance for the new arrivals to experience the Australian way of life.
Mount Gambier Migrant Resource Centre manager Anelia Blackie said it was great to see the youths step out of their comfort zone and try something new.
“Apart from having fun in the water and learning to master the skill of surfing, the aim was to also connect our migrant youth with a local Australian group,” she said.
“It proved to be very successful because our youths are now keen to continue to do surf lessons with members of Christian Surfers South East and participate in their other activities.”
Helping the group to master the art of surfing, instructor Mick O’Donohoe said they were one of the best groups he has taught so far.
“They were all really polite and keen to learn and even though some had never been to a beach before they were excited to give it a shot,” he said.
“They had such great balance and picked it up really quickly. “It was a great way for them to get involved with the Australian culture and I am looking forward to seeing them at further surfing lessons and other activities in the future.”
Following the surfing lesson, the group of 25 also enjoyed a barbecue on the beach.
Pictured are Richard Hein, Gay Lay Htoo, Ner Soe, Soe Ler Moo, Hsa Yu and Roy Fromberg.