Two very different communities met in Guyra on Thursday. Six Ezidis, a persecuted people from Iraq and Syria, came to Guyra Central School to celebrate Harmony Day with the Australian students.
Sarah Mills, teacher at Armidale Secondary College and Guyra Central School parent and P&C president, introduced the Ezidis at a special Harmony Day assembly. This was the first time the school had celebrated the week of Australian cultural diversity.
"We thought we'd come and show the Guyra community how proud we are of our students," Mrs Mills said. "Hopefully one day they'll even live in Guyra!"
The six students all attend Armidale Secondary College; the school started with only two this time last year, and now has 41, aged 12 to 18. The war interrupted their education; they have from one to seven years' schooling.
They take intensive English classes for up to five terms before they join mainstream classes, and socialise with Australians in metal and wood tech, music, drama, and sport. Some are already overtaking local kids in math.
For Guyra Central School students, it was a good opportunity to meet another ethnicity.
"It gave everyone," school captain Brayden (BJ) Cameron said, "a background of another culture that they're probably not used to, the struggles that other cultures face compared to what we in Australia do."
He and fellow captain Bronte Stanley, and other members of the student representative council, invited the Ezidis, with the advice of teacher Terry Curran.
BJ and Bronte thought that students learnt how lucky they were to be in Australia, in a safe environment.
There'll be lots for the Ezidis to talk about, too: how another school works; what it means when children and teenagers are together; even how the students sing the national anthem.
"Thank you for accepting us," Ashan Jarallah (Year 9) said. "It was lovely; everyone's friendly."
She was particularly keen to find out about Guyra. Her father is one of two Ezidi men who will soon work at the tomato farm, the first of many as more refugees arrive.
"As the community gets stronger and more confident," Mrs Mills said, "they will start to disperse into the workplaces, and the tomato farm is an excellent place for them."
The Ezidi students helped out for Harmony Day at Drummond Memorial Public School, which most of their siblings attend, on Wednesday. They also danced and sang in their traditional costumes at Armidale Secondary College on Thursday morning.