SheppARTon at La Trobe (Issue 8, 2011)

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The Melbourne Mass Gospel Choir at the La Trobe Shepparton campus

The SheppARTon Festival, sponsored by La Trobe University and held during March, featured an exhibition called ‘Voices Connect - One on One: Goulburn Valley Refugees’, which tells the beautiful, inspiring stories of refugees who have resettled in the Goulburn Valley.


Written, produced and directed by ABC Open, the exhibition featured twelve intimate and moving personal accounts told through sound and photos which allowed the local community to discover amazing stories behind the region’s latest residents.

Two of the featured refugees have ties to La Trobe University - one is now a teacher and the other a current student.

Adam Kitungano recently graduated from La Trobe with a Graduate Diploma in Education (Primary). His life before arriving in Australia was one of turmoil and upheaval. After fleeing the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the war in 1996, Adam ended up at a refugee camp with 60 000 people. With almost half the refugees under the age of 18 and no schools, Adam realised that something needed to be done to help the youth. He helped set up the first school in the refugee camp holding classes on the ground. Nine years later he came to Australia.

When he first arrived in Shepparton, former teacher worked as an integration aid at Notre Dame College. His passion for teaching never left him and after upgrading to a Bachelor’s degree at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus in 2011, Adam recently became a fully qualified teacher. 

Adam’s story can be found here.

Derrick Bwahimbi recently commenced his arts studies at the La Trobe Shepparton campus. After being kidnapped and tortured in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Derrick fled to Malawi where he began a new life as a refugee. Years later he he arrived in Shepparton. Initially worried about being accepted, he rapidly settled into the community and now celebrates his roots through involvement with the Congolese Traditional Dance Troup. 

Read more about Derrick’s story here.

As part of the festival, the Melbourne Mass Gospel Choir visited the La Trobe Shepparton campus. The local community was very impressed with the choir and want them to visit again soon and possibly even start a Shepparton branch.