We've been eagerly waiting to hear from our students in Australia! Here are the first blogs:
Vidal Zuniga '18
Elle Michaud-Thomas '18
I'm awoken by the sound of birds chirping outside, the musty heat of the tent, and the insatiable itch of mosquito bites. The air is damp and sticky and from the ocean's humidity and the night's down pour. In a heat induced delirium, I stroll out of the tent to pour myself a "cuppa" caffeinated tea and a bowl of slightly-too-soggy cereal due to the humidity. The caffeine as well as the collective rambunctiousness of teenagers jolts me out of my delirious state. Quickly, we all pack our bags for the day equipped with sangas (sandwiches), sunscreen, rain coats, bathers (swimsuits), towels, and a lot of water. We then all pile into the four wheel drive vehicles and head off on another jam packed, adventure-filled day. We start the day off by driving down to a beach by the Roaring Meg falls in order to swim and spend the morning with CJ, one of the Buru elders. It was a beautiful morning. The weather wasn't excessively hot, and when it did heat up we were able to plunge into a cool, refreshing river. Towards the end of our time with CJ, we all sat on the beach and listened intently as he shared some of his stories and vast knowledge. He spoke in a way that made me feel as if he was in my head speaking directly to my inner-most self. His words held so much power. They drew me in and forced me to listen on a much deeper level. He spoke of the land and its importance. He spoke of his childhood and overcoming the unavoidable hardships of growing up in Australia as an Aboriginal. As the morning closed out, I left with a much greater sense of understanding as well as a heightened curiosity and a thirst to know more. In the afternoon we drove out to see Eddie, another Buru elder. When we showed up, I had no idea what to expect. Eddie seemed to be more of a quiet recluse, and I was unsure if I would get much out of him; however, as our time went on he slowly warmed up to us as we warmed up to him. He took us on an extensive tour of his property, showing us glimpses of deep rooted history and spiritual sites. He shared his knowledge and gave me a better understanding of how some aspects of Aboriginal culture came to be. We finished our time with Eddie by sitting at his house while he shared years of history as well as his vision of the future. As he spoke, there was something he said that really struck me. He told us 99 years from now, if things keep progressing as they are, he believes there will be no more Aboriginal culture in the entirety of Australia. This struck a chord with me. I realized that by sharing this knowledge with us and putting it into our hands, it is now our responsibility to continue to share and pass on what we have learned. If Aboriginality is going to survive, we must all work together, no matter what walk of life we come from, to preserve and protect one of the oldest cultures on our planet. As the day came to a close, I fell asleep with a much larger pool of knowledge and a new found responsibility and urge to be an ally and help preserve such a beautiful and important culture.