Students in the world cultures class at Hardin Middle School got a taste of Australian culture on Tuesday when they sampled Vegemite, a spread made from brewers’ yeast extract.
Justin Biggs, a public diplomacy officer for the Australian Consulate in Chicago, visited three in St. Charles School District on this week and gave students a sample of the salty spread, popular in Australia.
“My daughter eats it every day for breakfast,” he said.
Several students wrinkled their noses after tasting Vegemite. But they had questions for Biggs, who has lived in the US since 2000, about differences in between the US and Australia.
“What do you think of when you think of Australia? Everyone thinks of the outback, of our animals,” he said. “But we live in cities, big major cities with millions of people in them.”
Biggs also highlighted the history of the country, which was settled by convicts, and what life is like for Australian kids. Students go to school from February to early December, breaking for the summer for several weeks.
“Regardless of their age in Australia, kids play sport,” he said. “As we grow up the majority of our population grows up on the coast; it’s essential that we know how to swim.”
He said that in Australia, people continue playing sports in local leagues into adulthood.
Biggs is one of several speakers who have visited classes in the St. Charles School District through the Partners in Education (PIE) program this year. Ruth Guffey, PIE facilitator, works with teachers to bring speakers to complement different units of study.