Bringing Torres Strait Islander culture and food to the forefront at Sydney

7 September 2023
Connecting students with Torres Strait Island cultural heritage
Cultural immersion programs at the University of Sydney encourages students to not only learn more about other cultures, but also fascinates students to learn about their own.
Torres Strait Islander cultural ceremony

In a groundbreaking cultural immersion initiative, Torres Strait Islander community members from Townsville and New South Wales recently went on a journey to the University of Sydney to educate dietetics students about their rich cultural heritage, traditional food practices, and way of life.

This collaboration aimed to foster cross-cultural understanding, promote cultural diversity, and enhance the students' knowledge of Indigenous health and nutrition.

This cultural immersion day follows from a successful cultural immersion day with Aboriginal food and culture last year.

Dr Alyse Davies, part of the Faculty of Medicine and Health's Poche Centre for Indigenous Health,  brought together a group of students eager to deepen their understanding of Torres Strait Islander culture.

Over a day, the visitors shared their ancestral knowledge, traditions, and the significance of food in their culture.

Dr Davies shared how her team plans to evaluate the effectiveness of these cultural immersion programs. It seems that the impact so far has been very positive.

Torres Strait Islander Consultant Genus Passi shared that the students were invited to participate in eating cultural foods such as Sop Sop (a dish made with root vegetables and coconut milk), traditional dance and art workshops.

The exchange also offered an opportunity for the students to learn about the challenges faced by Torres Strait Islander communities, such as food insecurity and chronic disease.

Overall, this cultural immersion program at the University of Sydney proved to be a transformative experience for both the Torres Strait Islander presenters and the dietetics students.

For one international student, they were going to go home and ask their parents and grandparents to learn more about their own culture while they were still alive.

It served as a powerful reminder of the importance of preserving cultural heritage, promoting diversity, and incorporating Indigenous knowledge into healthcare practices.

Related articles