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Students exchange war documentaries with Turkish peers

A four-year letter exchange project has seen the creation of two documentaries about soldiers who died at Gallipoli during World War I.

Olive tree planted at Thornton Public School

Consul-General Melih Karalar plants an olive tree at Thornton Public School with principal Stuart Wylie and students.

Letters exchanged between students at Thornton Public School and the Turkish Education Association (TED) Mersin College in Turkey has led to the creation of two documentaries about World War I.

The ‘Two Trenches One Letter’ project has involved four years of letter exchanges between the schools to understand the shared histories and involvement at Gallipoli during the war.

The documentaries were presented this week during a ceremony and screening at Thornton Public School attended by the Turkish Consul-General, Melih Karalar.

Mr Karalar helped plant an olive tree in the school’s newly established Peace Park to mark the event.

Thornton Public School students made a documentary about Private Arthur Keppie of Paterson, who died at Gallipoli in 1915. Students at the TED Mersin College Turkey made a documentary about Lieutenant Ibrahim Naci, who also died at Gallipoli.

Stuart Wylie, principal at Thornton Public School, said the project’s name is highly significant.

“The ‘Two Trenches One Letter’ project highlights the similarities of the two young men’s lives, including the devastation the war brought to their families,” Mr Wylie said.

“The more we understand of each other, the more respect we have, and the closer the bonds between people, in this case between Australia and Turkey as former enemies.”

The Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, Sarah Mitchell, congratulated the school and community on the project.

“This is an excellent example of how students, staff and community members can combine their resources and connections into an outstanding learning opportunity about a pivotal period of Australia’s history,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The fact that it has brought the students at the two schools closer to each other, and to knowing each others’ history, is also a lesson for anyone who sees the benefit of greater international understanding.”

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