A handmade banyan tree bearing hundreds of messages of harmony has been unveiled at Charles Darwin University to celebrate Harmony Day.
The spectacular mosaic made of symbolic tiles designed and created by staff and students from the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) will serve as a permanent reminder of what life in Australia represents.
AMEP lecturer Leonie Cramer said the 3 metre by 2.5 metre mosaic was unveiled as part of CDU’s annual Harmony Day celebrations that bring together hundreds of students and staff to spread the message of harmony by wearing traditional dress, and sharing food, dance and song.
“Although we celebrate Harmony Day every year we wanted a permanent daily reminder at the entrance of the AMEP to promote harmony every day,” Ms Cramer said.
She worked with local artist Sarah Body to design the mosaic and chose a design based on the banyan tree, which is rooted firmly in Northern Territory soil.
Ms Body, a former AMEP volunteer, worked with more than 20 classes of AMEP students to make the tiles that form the elaborate trunk and sprouting leaves.
“The tiles are very individual,” she said. “Some students have written messages, while others have formed shapes to represent their families, items of cultural significance, or what Australia means to them.
“The key themes stemming from the tree include freedom, peace, safety, love, justice and hope, as well as community.”
She said the tree itself was also an international symbol of fertility, protection, shelter, and over-branching inclusivity. “We also made sure the roots were strong and deeply rooted into the soil, representing new citizens establishing themselves within their new community.”
More than 350 students are enrolled in AMEP courses across CDU campuses, originating from countries as diverse as China, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Bhutan and Somalia.
The AMEP is funded by the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
The mosaic has been installed on the external wall to the entrance of building Orange 4 on CDU’s Casuarina campus. For map details visit: www.cdu.edu.au/campuses/maps.htm