A few weeks ago two of our alumni young chefs, Aaron Ward & Troy Crisante along with our project director Phee Gardner were invited to spend a week with the Hayden Reynolds Tiwi College Project. The Tiwi College Project seeks to improve the well being of the Tiwi Island youth by providing educational opportunities at Tiwi College, ‘We seek to create opportunities, which provide pathways for positive social change’. This is achieved by harnessing the profile and influence of positive role models across the fields of sport, entertainment and by a cross section of corporate executives who are keen to share experiences and opportunities that will enhance social change.
Aaron and Troy shared their cooking skills & food knowledge with the college students and home carers, attended classes with the students, assisting them with their literacy skills and cooked up a BBQ of marinated buffalo skewers and pepper crust steaks (you can get their recipes here).. We put together a clip of their time at the Tiwi Islands Project – thanks to all of the students and the Tiwi Islands Community along with the Hayden Reynolds Tiwi College Project for welcoming and hosting us!
Heading back on our tiny plane we asked Aaron about his experiences at the Tiwi College Project and some background into the project.
What is the Tiwi College Project and what do you think they’re trying to achieve?
The college is trying to improve the lifestyles of the Tiwi people by providing the Life Skills program, where the kids are taught to cook, clean and respect the other people around them. These skills can then be taken back into the communities to help lifestyles of those back home.
The college is trying to create job opportunities for the kids once they graduate from the college. Some of the kids are going into apprenticeships at the college in the garden program and going to the fishing lodges to work as guides on the fishing charters.
Why did you want to go to the Tiwi College Project?
Going to the Tiwi Islands and visiting the Tiwi College Project was such a great opportunity for me. I wanted to see what the project was about, how the college operated, and how the kids lived their day-to-day lives. Also being able to give back to the community by sharing my cooking skills and recipes was an experience I couldn’t say no to.
How as a chef do you think you can help implement change to help young kids in the Tiwi community?
As a chef I think it is important to teach the kids in the Tiwi community about different foods and give them a better knowledge base of foods they can cook. After talking to the kids, food is a big part of their culture as it brings the families and communities together. I hope that by teaching them some new techniques and sharing some new recipes it can help them to make healthier choices along the way.
What did you learn about the Tiwi community at the college?
I learnt how much knowledge the Tiwi people have of the land they live on. They know how and when the best time to hunt is; where to find the best catch and the best ways to track and capture the animal. And the ways they fish to catch turtle, stingray and dugong in the most successful way. They were also able to explain which trees can be used for medicine if sick and which trees can help to cook their food.
What was the highlight of the trip?
The highlight of the trip for me would have to be working with the kids in class and cooking for them.
We had the opportunity to sit in on a reading class and help the kids practice their reading skills. To see the joy on their faces when they accomplished reading a book with no help was amazing.
On the final morning at Tiwi College Project we cooked breakfast at one of the homes. It was a privilege to cook for the 13 girls and their house carers. We received plenty of thank you letters from the girls so I’m pretty sure they enjoyed it
What have you learnt from this experience?
Before going to the Tiwi Islands I didn’t really know much about the project. Having experienced first-hand what the project is trying to achieve it is a great initiative to help the kids of the island improve the way they live and help them with their life skills in the future.
What have you taken away from the visit?
This was a great experience for me and one I will not forget. Working with the children, the families and the dedicated staff that make it all happen is truly inspirational. Giving something back by cooking food for the homes and helping the kids with their reading and literature was a great experience.