Among the best memories of Year 12 student, Atil Angeth’s, time at BSSC were the many lunches she shared with friends in the Language Centre and how wonderful her teachers have been.

One example, that still makes her laugh out loud, was a very successful April Fools joke played on Atil and her classmates by their EAL teacher, Cath Holton.

“It was the funniest thing,” Atil remembers. “Cath asked us the date at the start of the day and then explained the tradition of playing jokes on people on April 1st.

“When we came back from recess she said she had some really important news—that she was moving to Sydney in a couple of weeks.

“I thought straightaway, ‘no, please don’t go!’ I was so sad—and then it was hilarious because of course she wasn’t moving to Sydney… and she’d only told us less than an hour earlier about April Fools Day.”

While Atil is very happy at BSSC, she was quite nervous as she prepared for her first day at the college—worried she would be lost in the crowd and have trouble finding the one person she knew well.

She soon learnt how welcoming her teachers and other students were, and how stepping out of her comfort zone to connect with another person was the first step to a new friendship.

“I’m not as shy these days,” she smiles. “I met Nary and Du Du and really enjoy my classes. Having good friends gives you a lot more confidence.”

Then the pandemic developed and remote learning came as a real challenge for Atil.

“It made me realise how much benefit I get from actually being in class with my teachers,” she says. “It was so hard not being able to clarify questions quickly and it really affected my motivation.”

As the year drew to a close, Atil was relieved to be back in class, continuing to work towards her goal of, one day, becoming a kindergarten teacher.

But along with the challenges of completing Year 12 during a pandemic, 2021 was also a year where Atil made a name for herself as a performer and actor.

She performed alongside renowned South Sudanese musician Ajak Kwai at the opening night of the Castlemaine State Festival in March and more recently with the Arena Theatre Company in ‘Baai’, a live performance and film celebrating the vibrant and colourful world of South Sudanese culture.

The film, which also featured former BSSC students Martha Kudum and Kotnyin Thon, weaves  stories and original songs of life in South Sudan with personal accounts of each of the performers’ unique journey to calling Australia home.

Atil describes it as a celebration of identity and an incredible collaboration between the South Sudanese community and artist, Eliza Hull.

“It was my first time doing a big performance like that,” she says. “It felt great because, at the end, people were just so happy.”