Stephen in Australia

Stephen is a junior majoring in finance and political science. In Australia, he will be studying at Curtin University of Technology in Perth, where he will work on an international community service project in addition to taking courses.

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Greetings again from Down Under

laverton-006-sm.jpg The weather has continued to be fairly suspect lately, and the school work has picked up considerably the last two weeks. Consequently, I don’t have too many exciting things to write about. However, both my parents and SMU are probably glad to know that actual studying does occur as part of “studying” abroad : )

Two weeks ago I went in for a job trial (basically an unpaid two hour training session) at a local restaurant right on the water. Everything went well, and the few tables I waited were very enthusiastic to talk with me once they noticed my American accent. I left with the job and was planning to come in the following Wednesday to work for the majority of the day. I was excited. However, I received a call the next day informing me that they no longer wished to hire me because I wouldn’t be able to stay through the Christmas season. So that’s my story of being hired and fired within 24 hours.

Anyway, last weekend I had an amazingly unique opportunity to travel to the actual outback – meaning a mining company paid to fly five of us directly east of Perth to volunteer in a community of around 250 people. We flew over extremely flat, barren land that was, of course, covered in red dirt. The town is called Laverton, and the volunteer organization on campus has a continued relationship with them. They fly volunteers out there every couple of weeks.

The trip was more informative than anything else. There is a strong Aboriginal presence in the community, and Indigenous people in Australia still face many difficult issues. School attendance, a lack of work, alcoholism and racism against them are a few of the problems faced on a daily basis. There is a long history of cultural difficulties that reach back to the first settlements in Australia. Even as recently as the 1960s the government still practiced assimilation methods, which oftentimes resulted in young Aboriginals being forcibly removed from their family and placed into the home of a white family to be raised.

My time in Laverton really helped to flesh out and see first-hand what has been discussed in my Indigenous Issues class. I left with the realization that there are no easy answers, but that there are good people working hard to fix the problems and support the children. We spent time talking with the school teachers, police chief, hospital staff, and the volunteer ambulance crew. We ran activities for the kids on Saturday morning, and later in the day we played Australian football with the children before playing basketball later that night. Needless to say, we were tired by the end of the day.

laverton-014-sm.jpg Unfortunately, we were only allowed to bring one group camera and so I don’t have pictures with the kids to show you. However, I did sneak my camera in my bag, and I brought it with us as we watched the sunset over the outback.

Well, that’s all for me from now.

Take care and God Bless,

Stephen

PS I also just sent in my overseas ballot and voted!

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