Kogarah history student's dream trip to Belgium and France

Scholarship: Kogarah High School student Fatima Abdallah. Picture: John Veage
Scholarship: Kogarah High School student Fatima Abdallah. Picture: John Veage

History student Fatima Abdallah could barely believe her ears when she heard she was off to Europe on a fully-paid scholarship.

The Kogarah High School student is one of 21 teenagers from across NSW heading to Belgium and France in September. The government-funded trip will give students a chance to learn more about significant Australian battles in the World Wars.

Fatima, 16, said she was over the moon when her principal told her she was going.

“I cried. I was jumping around and I couldn’t believe it. I gave the principal the biggest hug and then I cried again.”

The 12-day trip will visit significant battlefields in Belgium and France including Villers-Bretonneux, Bullecourt and Fromelles. 

The 2017 Premier’s Anzac Memorial Scholarship saw 21 schools in NSW drawn out of a ballot. The lucky schools then had to select one student to take part in the scholarship.

Fatima earned the right to represent her school after impressing the school’s selection panel with a set of five portraits.

“I did five portraits of important people through the Anzac history,” she said. “It was a diverse group. It was not just white Australians, there were Aboriginal people and women – it was very diverse.” 

She said she really enjoyed both history and art which helped her get selected. She said she had never been to Europe.

“It’s going to be a great experience. And the great thing is I will have a tour guide and historian with me telling me all the history.”

Kogarah High School principal Julie Ross said about a dozen students from the school put forward a project to be considered for the trip. She said Fatima’s entry was outstanding.

“I’m so impressed at her insight and her empathy, because she demonstrated an understanding not just of the physical commitment but also the emotional commitment of our serving personnel.”

One other school from the St George and Sutherland Shire was also selected to take part, De La Salle Catholic College Caringbah. The successful student from De La Salle is Nicholas Claridge, 16.