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Women of Parade captivated by Elnaz’s incredible story   

The Old Paradians’ Association has acknowledged the substantial contributions to College life of its women, in hosting an inaugural high tea at Eltham’s Ballara Receptions.

An audience of 65 people recently gathered for the occasion, with each truly humbled and privileged to hear from the guest speaker Elnaz Tavancheh - the Iranian-born refugee who two years ago completed her VCE at Parade.

In 2013, Elnaz, the Iranian-born daughter of Afghan Hazara refugees, joined her mother in making the long and arduous journey from persecution.

After briefly resettling in Indonesia, they embarked on a perilous four-day voyage aboard a fishing boat, which made it to the shores of Christmas Island on Elnaz’s 21st birthday.

Elnaz later found refuge in Melbourne’s north and, whilst in detention, gained the support of Caterina Mezzatesta, formerly of the Edmund Rice Asylum Seeker Project. Through the assistance of Br Mark O’Loughlin and generosity of Parade College Principal Dr. Denis Moore, Elnaz was subsequently accepted by Parade as its one and only female student in 145 years – and in 2014 duly completed her VCE.

Caterina, Br O’Loughlin and Dr Moore were all present at Ballara when Elnaz, now furthering her studies at Latrobe University, reflected on her schooldays of not so long ago.

“When I was at Parade I was treated with dignity and respect and kindness,” Elnaz told the gathering.

“The students and the teachers were all so very respectful and kind. It is why I was so proud to call myself a Parade student, because I came from an all-girls school in Iran to an all-boys school in Australia.

“I feel so privileged to call myself an Old Paradian now, because what I learned from Parade College was how to be a good human being  - and I will always try to keep that treasure with me . . . ”

OPA President Lewis Derrico formally welcomed guests to the occasion - amongst them Parade’s Director of Student Support Services Jenine Fogarty; College Registrar Angela O’Connor; English teacher Terri Crisafi; Parents of Parade Committeewoman Clare Love; OPA Woman of Distinction Award winners Shirley O’Rourke and Betty Stella; and Old Paradian John Collins (2002) and his mother Maria.

“To all women, young and old, in the room who have contributed to the College cause, this is a celebration and acknowledgment of your contributions to life within and beyond the gates of Parade over many years – and it’s been long overdue,” Lewis said.

“As evidenced by the turnout, this is a living, breathing demographic to whom the association extends its sincere gratitude.”

To view all images of the High Tea - courtesy Rachel Raucci, Imagine the Possibilities - go to the Image Galleries section to the left of this page.

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