Rather than listing the people I’ve met this year, I thought I’d choose to write about one person who was particularly memorable. Her name is Casey and while I only lived with her for a couple of weeks, she was an incredible person to get to know. Unbelievably confident and kind, she had this ability to engage a room full of people without even trying. But as well as being a lovely person, she also has a particularly interesting job. She works for the Aurora Project; an international scholarship programme which supports indigenous education.
Through her position, she organises international tours of the top universities around the world indigenous students and is heavily involved in the selection process for the scholarships. Speaking to her about this six week trip highlighted the discrepancies in the Australian education system that I hadn’t fully realised. It also showed how important recognition for these students still remains.
These social differences have also been pointed out by other people writing in this blog, but meeting Casey was a moment which contextualised them more clearly for me. It also changed and reinforced ideas that I have come to understand from visiting the Cultural Centre in the Uluru National Park, and learning about the treatment of Indigenous People at university. There still remains a divide and that’s something I have definitely learnt during my time away.
A shocking statistic that I discovered when visiting Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park is that the only 3% of the National Park entrance fee goes back into the conservation of the park and the surrounding communities, the rest is taken by the Australian Government. In many respects this is reflective of the wider issues in contemporary Australia.
To read further about the project: http://www.auroraproject.com.au/