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Celebrating the Village's 20th anniversary and unveiling of traditional tree carving in the Village

On 6 May 2024, the Village at Burgmann College celebrated its 20th anniversary among esteemed guests and friends of the College, celebrating its unique role in shaping the culture and feel of the Burgmann campus.

The ceremony opened with dear friends of the College, Aunty Dr Matilda House-Williams and Paul Girrawah House (her son), who performed a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony, in addition to unveiling the beautiful traditional tree carving Paul recently completed on the Village grounds.

See photos from the 20th Anniversary celebrations, including the Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremonies

Chair of Burgmann Board and Council, Greg Mills, emceed the evening, welcoming speeches from Paul Girrawah House, Aunty Dr Matilda House-Williams, Council Member Campbell Macknight, a prayer from Rev Gayl Mills, and reflections from former Principal Rev Dr Lewis Rushbrook, whose visionary leadership brought to life what was then called the Burgmann Postgraduate Village, a residential facility that reshaped Burgmann's campus and history forever.

'I am so proud to have been involved in the concept and development of the Village and it’s always a pleasure to be back at Burgmann', said Rev Dr Rushbrook. 'It still feels like home.'

Rushbrook recounted the trials and setbacks he and other members of the Burgmann leadership faced to conceptualise and complete the project, and ended with saying how honoured he felt that the Village was made a reality.

'For me, looking back, it’s always somewhat amusing to have lent my moniker "Luigi" to weekend coffee and scones, started in 1972, and now an institution in its 53rd year! Go figure! But more satisfying, deeply satisfying, is seeing that vision come to life. For me, the highlight of my association with Burgmann College.'

Related reading: Former Principal Rev Dr Lewis Rushbrook's full speech commemorating the Village's 20th anniversary

Professor Campbell Macknight, who was also instrumental in the development of the Village, shared some lesser-known facts about the Chapel—a building centrepiece which was purposefully included in the design of the Village for residents’ reflection at pivotal time in their lives.

'Two things to notice: The wording in the corner window. Micah 6:8 was an easy choice, but the other took some searching. I was responsible for finding the quote from the Polish-Canadian author, Eva Hoffman, in her book, Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language. She had been a visiting fellow at ANU and willingly gave her permission. "A tenderness for each of our moments, for others and for the world". I like the word "tenderness"'.

Rev Gayl Mills led a prayer acknowledging the Village's past, and asking for a blessing over the Village's future.

'We ask that the Village may continue to be:
A place to rest and rejuvenate.
A place to study and learn.
A place for friendship and for solitude.
A place for creativity and recreation.
A place for generous hospitality and welcome, and care for others.
A place for compassion and healing.
A safe place to be sent from and to return to.
May the Village continue to become a home for those that live here.'

The event had begun behind the Chapel where the new tree carving is located, but after the ceremonies, guests adjourned to the Chapel for hors d'oeuvres and cake. Music was provided by Burgmann College Advancement Administrator, Gillian Pereira, and her husband, David Pereira, who are both accomplished cellists.

BRA President Anaina Langrana offered a few words about the Village and its impact on residents' experiences at Burgmann, and helped Rev Dr Rushbrook cut the celebratory cake.

We thank everyone who attended and look forward to 20 more years of the Village!

Related reading: The advent of the Burgmann College Postgraduate Village

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Senior Ngambri custodian with Wiradjuri, Walgalu and Ngunnawal ancestry, Paul Girrawah House
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Aunty Dr Matilda House Williams
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Chair of Burgmann Council and Board Greg Mills
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Former Principal Rev Dr Lewis Rushbrook
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Professor Campbell Macknight
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Cellists Gillian and David Pereira
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BRA President Anaina Langrana cuts the cake with Rev Dr Lewis Rushbrook
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