Friday, January 25, 2013

Adventures of the Week

Brought to you by David Mayberry

Hello, dear reader, and let me spin you a tale. This tale covers the continued adventures of our overseas program after we returned to Sydney after the Blue Mountains. While I would like to describe my own personal adventures in Sydney, I’m afraid that I don’t adventure much at all. I can describe a lovely group adventure, but first, the day before that. We arrived back from the Blue Mountains on a Monday, a lovely day to get back as we didn’t have to restart our classes for the week on that day. Everyone has disliked Monday at least once in their lives, so it was good that we didn’t have lectures then. Thus, it was up to Tuesday to start off the week, and it did, so good job Tuesday, well done. You gave us a lecture on Australia’s multiculturalism and milieu where we learned various statistics about the population, such as females outnumbering and outliving males, women being paid less than men, 1.9 children per family which makes me wonder where the other 0.1 went, and that in the top 10 lists for music and movies, there was only 1 Australian entry for each list, illustrating Australia’s lack of cultural identity, and the influence of American culture.
            We later went on a tour of The Rocks area in Sydney, led by an Aboriginal tour guide who took the time to point out how green and lush the area was and the various uses of the plants. One of our last stops of the tour was a stop in a museum where we got to look over and hold some aboriginal tools and weapons, like woven fishing baskets, spears, and carrying devices called coolamons, which are used for a huge variety of purposes. After the tour, a number of us decided to walk over the harbor bridge. Not a bridge climb mind you, that was much too expensive, but just normal walking to check out the other side. On the walk we saw lovely views of the opera house, along with a man hanging out by an outdoor pool on a rooftop. Nothing quite like an outdoor pool next to a harbor, eh? On the other side, before checking things out we spent a good time lying on the lawn of a park. While not productive, I think it was all around a much more enjoyable experience than anything else we could have done. The park where we were hanging out was very popular and there were a number of people picnicking and enjoying the sun much as we were.  After eating a bit of dinner we were on our way back home to sleep, in beds rather than on grass.
The Sydney Harbor Bridge.  Now with barbed wire on the walkways!
The Museum of Contemporary Art.  We didn't actually go to it, but this is a wonderful poster.       
The next day was a free day. Being a free day, I was going to spend it in my room doing nothing, but much to my joy and relief I caught wind of plans to go to Manly, a beach town area place near Sydney. After taking the ferry there, we walked across the sidewalk to the beach. I took a few seconds to take off my shoes, and by the time I was done the group had gone ahead without me and vanished into the ether. After expressing my amazement at the sheer efficiency they had just displayed, I started heading down the beach attempting to find them. The beach was separated into no swimming areas and swimming allowed sections, so my search area was thankfully reduced. Even so, I managed to walk to one end of the beach and not find them, so I went all the way back the other way and still didn’t find them. It was only by sheer dumb luck that the area I chose to sit and rest and mope was where some of the group was at. Upon being reunited with the group, I learned that the ones who had gone in the water had itchy red marks on them that may or may not have been sea lice (I looked them up afterwards and can confirm that sea lice are apparently a real thing). When one thinks about it, my losing the entire group kept me from getting bitten by sea lice, so it turned out to be a good thing in the end. Funny how the world works.
            On Thursday, we were lectured on aboriginal storytelling, and learned about the complicated family dynamics of aboriginal communities.  With Thursday done, let’s talk about Friday. We started the day happy that we would get to start class at 9:30 rather than 9 like we normally do. Except instead we were brought to class early and informed that the neighborhood tour scheduled for Saturday was cancelled. After that tragedy, we had a lecture on the impact of European occupation of Australia on Aboriginal Australians. We were taught about the stolen generation and how they were kidnapped from their families and the negative issues that resulted from such actions. After hearing the negative effects of Europeans, we watched a funny satire that gave us the answer to the question of “what if the Aboriginals had colonized a white man area instead of the other way around?” The result is Barbakiueria (sound it out), a film that gives us a perspective on the racism present in history while being really funny just because of how absurd the premise is portrayed. We then countered that bit of humor by watching a talk show segment where an audience of Aboriginals discussed their experiences trying to obtain certification of their aboriginality while also talking about the meaning of what it is to be an Aboriginal and what defines it. It gave me hope that maybe in several years’ time, maybe not even during my time on this Earth, everyone will get everything back on track and years of racism, atrocities, negative behavior, and all around bad stuff done by the human race all the time will finally be settled. I can only hope that one day things will actually be positive for the world, and I hope you’ll agree that this would be a good thing. With the week done, my time with you is over, dear readers, but you might see me again. Until such time, may your adventures be exciting, your days be merry, and may you always remember today’s important life lesson:

“Sometimes life sucks. Keep in mind that life will trend towards being better in the long run, so don’t let bad things keep you down and enjoy what good things there are. Also, kindness is great, so have more of it. Seriously.”

With that said, as some people (though not as many as movies and pop culture would suggest) say down here, G’day.

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