My name is Lilliana Swainson and last year I completed the Middle Years Programme (MYP) Personal Project in my final year of the MYP – Year 10. Through the writing of my picture book, 'A Little Bird Told Me', my Project worked towards raising awareness and understanding of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal of gender equality (goal five).
The title of my book, A Little Bird Told Me follows the line of a girl who pushes past the stereotypes because she knows that sometimes things just aren’t just her. She knows that she is brave, bold, independent and strong and sometimes she just doesn’t want to be like the others. With a deep philosophical meaning, fun illustrations and meaningful words, my book aims to educate and influence the development of a strong female identity in the 21st century.
As I came to the end of my MYP journey, the writing and development of my picture book was extremely worthwhile as I reflected on how much I had changed since the beginning of my MYP journey five years ago. My Project allowed me to connect with such amazing and dedicated people and to work alongside charities such as Room to Read Australia who are already doing such amazing work in regards to gender equality. All profits from my books have been donated to Room to Read Australia in the hope of sending a girl to school for a year who would have otherwise not have been given the chance.
Since publishing A Little Bird Told Me in August last year, I have also published a French version (Un petit oiseau m’a dit) and I am in the process of developing an Italian and Japanese versions. I also have plans with the Yugambeh Museum to create an Australian Indigenous copy since returning from visiting Barambah last year during the college’s third Barambah trip (B3 Trip). This memorable trip in which we continued the work of previous B Trips before us, positively strengthened the bonds with the Barambah and Cherbourg communities. By being immersed in their culture and history, I came to have a better understanding of the struggles faced by the First Nations people and of those continually faced by Indigenous people today in Australia. By publishing an Indigenous translation of my book, I hope to engage the Indigenous community with the concept of gender equality to further empower future generations.
After publication, my MYP action launched. I visited Somerset students in Pre-Prep, Prep and Year 4 to discuss my project and the importance of gender equality in our world. I was invited to share my book with Clover Hill State School students in Years 2, 3, 5 and 6. I also shared my book with Murgon State School, whom I had worked with on the B3 Trip. I was also fortunate to be able to connect with the Australian International School in Singapore, another International Baccalaureate (IB) school in December last year. I presented my book to 200 of their Year 5 PYP students. This was such an incredible experience.
My journey has encouraged me to look outside of our school community as I have become more of a globally-minded person. In particular, Personal Project has given me such great opportunities to challenge myself whilst working on something that I truly feel passionate about. Looking forward, I will continue to develop my position on gender equality as I take my journey further.
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