a multicultural Research Library

Making multicultural Australia

Search the complete site: ... Sitemap » ... Links to other sites »

multicultural Video »

Category: Interviews »

Subject: Education »

Maria Tence describes her experience of being Italian in the Catholic school system

Mara Moustafine and Maria Tence.



Date Added:

15 April 2009


source not available


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

7.9 MB




I dont like to look at my childhood although its a good example, the time at school, and I dont like to dwell on it because people move on, but the reality was, as a child in a Catholic school when the Catholic school was supposed to be, you know, an embracing culture, we were discriminated against. I know that in my secondary schooling, the Italian girls used to go to school with earrings and bangles because it was part of our custom and culture, wed have them ripped off us and confiscated by the nuns.

We would have, you know, if our hair was out, wed our you know, our hair would be pulled and told to be, you know, put back off our faces. The I certainly felt a and as my girlfriends did, school girlfriends, felt that the nuns were discriminating, not all nuns, but certainly there were nuns who discriminated against the non-Anglo-Celtic girls. They were stricter with us. They were harsher with, you know, penalties if we didnt do our homework.
So, I can say that yes, I felt a lot I felt that there was a little bit more discrimination towards us, as a group. And some teachers even took it out on individuals. So, thats definitely the case and both in primary and secondary school.
Children can be really nasty, I mean, you know that and even more so when its being fed by the parents. I mean, I do recall as a child when I was in primary school that, you know, youd play kiss chasing and the girls Italian girls would never be chased and they were the last to be asked to play, you know, basketball, they were asked to be last on the softball teams and last on the basketball teams. Or the running teams. So in terms of, you know, the sports, yes, you know, we were the last to join the teams.
Because it was a Catholic school, it was high proportion of migrant kids were at the school, definitely and you tended to remain in those groups. And then there was, you know, the wog girls opposite the, you know, skip girls and as I say, I remember the playground was divided north side and south side, just like Ireland would be, typical of you know, the Irish Catholic education, schooling and, you know, it was the domain the south side of the school was the wog side and the north side was the Anglo side. In my areas, there were a lot of Mauritian immigrants, so a lot of my classmates were Mauritian, Anglo-Indians were a big group in the school as well and there was a handful of Greek girls.
End transcript