Travel Log 13: “Connecting Rites of Passage and Digital Storytelling” By Erin Schirra, Gold Coast, Australia

Upon reading just the first paragraphs of Blumenkrantz and Goldstein’s study of modern day Rites of Passage, I caught myself distracted by what I measured as a rite of passage. They mention how in our current world, more specifically in America, many are started to regard a rite of passage as a variety of events that happen to us for the first time (Blumenkrantz, Goldstein 43). This takes away from the original notion of what a rite of passage is, and what Blumenkrantz and Goldstein define it to be. They say that a true rite of passage is not just about the individual experiencing something for the first time, but also about the surrounding community’s role in that new, transformative experience (43). After reading their definition, I again found my mind wandering to a self-reflective state, pondering how the phrase ‘rite of passage’ can fit into my past and my present. Although I never had the typical coming of age ceremony that occurs in Filipino families, I did go through the traditional Roman Catholic religious ceremonies that can be interpreted as rites of passage. Whether it was baptism, first communion, or confirmation, these physical ceremonies completed in the presence of my local community follow the proposed definition of a rite of passage. However, I also see the value in taking my first international flight alone as a symbol of a new rite of passage for me, as it was the beginning of my journey abroad. This flight was not marked by tradition, or even a great sense of community, but instead by a significant transition in my life.

I do see the concern in the loss of the more traditional rites of passage to the globally connected online world, especially in the point brought up of seeking for validation of transitions in the use of drugs or binge drinking, or based on the social media/online portrayal of transitions (Blumenkrantz, Goldstein 43). I feel as though this puts the youth population at risk of unintentionally harming themselves while being predisposed of the false notions that both the internet and social media contain.

The three elements of rites of passage that I have been beneficial to me during my abroad experience include adversity or personal challenge, silence, and connection with nature (Blumenkrantz, Goldstein 44). These three elements, when combined together, epitomize both my highest and lowest point while abroad (which happened to occur in the same moment). The personal challenges that I have faced, mostly socially, pushed me around and forced me to either give up, find a solution, or be at peace with what was going on. The silence I was surrounded by was a new sensation for me, and allowed for me to hear my own thoughts clearly to solve those challenges. Lastly, my connection to nature, in push and pull of the waves and grains of sand running through my fingers, made me secure in my decisions and solutions. My feelings are validated in this quote from the study, “’Connection to an actual geographic place, especially when there is deep contact with nature, (Louv, 2005) and a psychological sense of community (Sarason, 1974) has been widely acknowledged as critical to a sense of self and security for children, (Eller 1991; Stevenson, 1998)’” (Blumenkrantz, Goldstein 45). Although I am a young adult and not a child, I still see the value in my surroundings and newfound sense of self.

One digital story that I deeply related to was not actually on the slides, but came from my best friend, who studied in the same city as me while taking this course. She talked through her journey of self-discovery, and her realizations that she came to upon her time in Australia. Specifically, she mentioned how she spent her entire life having a plan, and how this country shifted her perspective of the value behind a planned out life. I watched her digital story during the first two weeks of my arrival to Australia, and found myself reflecting deeper on my planning, and on the Aussie vibes that were seemingly leaking into my planned and structured brain. It sparked conversation between others from QU that felt the same way, allowing us all to start reflecting more on the intricate details of our environment that could slowly impact us. I believe that alone marks for a successful story.

Works Cited

Blumenkrantz, DG., & Goldstein, MB. (2010). Rites of passage as a framework for community interventions with youth. Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice, 1(2), 41-50. Retrieved , from http://www.gjcpp.org/.

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Travel Log 12: “Service” by Erin Schirra Gold Coast, Australia

While on a quick tram ride across the Gold Coast, I found myself conversing with a large group of adults that hopped on to the tram at the following stop. They were all dressed in formal wear, and I asked them where they had come from. They told me that they had just finished attending a large charity event that they had been planning for months, and that all of the proceeds went to an organization. With peaked curiosity, I continued asking about their event and group, only to discover that they raised money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Australia. I practically jumped out of my seat with excitement, as my sorority’s philanthropy is RMH, and we also spend all year planning events and raising money for it. The Ronald McDonald House is a worldwide organization that allows for families with sick children to stay together at all times. Physical houses are set up next to major hospitals, and allow for the families of any hospitalized child to reside, eat, and spend time in the house for free. Massive fundraising and hands on volunteering all allow for its 43 year-long presence in the USA, and 36 year-long presence in Australia. Although the mission of each RMH slightly varies depending on the region, they all aim to help “seriously ill children and their families” (rmhc.org.au).

After my conversation with the philanthropy-driven side of the Aussie RMHs, and a guided direction on where to find the closest house, I picked up my laptop and began to search. I was able to call and speak to the director of operations at the RMH one city over, but much to my dismay, one day volunteers were not accepted. In order to apply, a six month commitment was required, which was a similar case to all of the other volunteer opportunities I reached out to in my area. Regardless of all of this, I was able to learn more about the volunteering at RMHC of Australia in my conversation with the director. He organizes volunteers across multiple RMH locations, and there are opportunities such as cleaning up the house, doing yard work, cooking, hosting tea, and assisting in orientation. The guidelines for volunteering are very strict, and include face-to-face interviews, health checks, six-step training sessions, and as mentioned before, a time commitment. The process is extensive and the opportunities are great in number, and Jonathan Crockett has done a phenomenal job in his organization of it all.

I think that volunteering allows us to belong to a cause that is bigger than ourselves. Participating in any form of service allows us to partake in that shared community, and while living in another country, this sense of belonging is both comforting and beneficial. Additionally, as cliché as it may sounds, service allows us to give back to the community that has done so much to help us grow. By inserting ourselves into our abroad communities, we utilize the resources provided by local business, environments, and varied organizations, and it is our duty to help give back before we leave. A key point that I will take away is the dual sided nature and international camaraderie of RMHs across the world. Having spoken to the philanthropy and hands-on-volunteering sides of the Australian RMHs reminded me how important each measure is to the overall success. After posing for the picture below with my sorority’s hand sign, I posted it to show all of my sisters at home that these women appreciated what we do, and vice versa. Seeing the reactions to this support on both ends from across the world was something that I will not forget. This experience made me more cognizant of the idea of service in all locations, and that if we work hard enough, there is a way for us to find some form, whether, small or large, to give back to our community.

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“Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

These women are great, as they serve through organizational efforts to raise massive amounts of money for RMH. We, as abroad students, can too be great when we give back through service.

 

***As a side note to this post, I would like to acknowledge that original efforts for planned volunteering were set to be carried out at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. This establishment hosts an array of native Australian animals such as koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, and a variety of birds. It works towards conservation, rehabilitation, and preservation. Because of weather implications from a category 5 cyclone, conflicts in times, and long volunteer processing measures, I was only able to sign up for a date in late April. Luckily, as rewarding as the interview was, I will still be able to have the hands on volunteer experience.

Travel Log 11: “Holding up ‘Half the Sky'” by Erin Schirra, Gold Coast, Queensland

The overall message of the documentary, Half the Sky, is meant to show the raw details of stories of women around the world. It intends to bring to light the challenges and oppression women face, and the strength and courage women possess in order to overcome these challenges. Within the first fifteen minutes of the documentary, I found myself silently crying. I even found some of the movie difficult to give my sole attention to, as it evoked a vast amount of emotions. The first story revealed a shelter that took in females who has been raped, attempting to mend their physical health and begin to tap into assisting with their mental health. When the owner of the shelter revealed a girl who had just been brought in at the age of three, I knew that this documentary would provoke many thoughts and feelings, and would impact me greatly. Half the Sky works with multiple famous actresses, all of which hold a personal mission to help share these stories of multiple communities. It is a blunt representation of many of the cruelties that women face throughout international societies.

There were two particular stories that stood out among the rest, and they focused on two girls, lading separate lives, and their dedication to the pursuit of education. One girl was forced by her father to spend all day selling lottery tickets. If she did not reap profit, he would beat her. She would collect any of her small share of profit and save up in order to pay for her tutoring at school. Her father refused to acknowledge her intelligence or courage, showing his beliefs to the camera crew that she was still a child, and would one day achieve those virtues. Another young girl takes care of her younger siblings, cooking, cleaning, and raising them while her dad works to support their family. He mentions that when there are parent teacher conferences, he makes sure to attend, so that he can assure his kids are staying on track. That one day of conferences, however, sets their family finances back. He tells the reporter, “If I take just one day off, I will be slightly more poor, but if my kids do not get an education, they will always be poor” (Half the Sky). Both of these girls care about their education so much that they will work and travel for hours to achieve it. For both of them, an education is equal to freedom. With, or without their families support, these girls have dreams of degrees that they have turned into real goals. This impacted me because it made me realize how lucky I am to have goals and access to resources to achieve them. I connected with these girls because I have always loved school, but it is not often that I sit down and reflect on how privileged  I am to have had a great public school system, or parents that supported my pursuit of health sciences, or even an upbringing where I did not feel restricted in my goals for the future. One line that stood out to me was “you educate a girl and she can change the world around her” (Half the Sky). I hope that the women and girls in this film truly believed that, and I hope that one day, the gift of education will not be considered a gift to them, but a right.

One topic that struck a chord with me in relation to my field of study was the issue of maternal death during childbirth. At one point in this section of the documentary, a birth case was detailed, describing the situation in depth. A woman had gone into labor, but her commute to the main birthing center took four hours. She was in massive amounts of pain, more than that of a regular childbirth, and was suffering from Eclampsia (seizures due to high blood pressure, which has been increased due to the pregnancy itself). By the time she arrived at the hospital, she was unconscious. Although she gave birth to her baby, she did not survive. Eclampsia is common in many pregnant women, and with careful monitoring, positioning, and treatment, should not be majorly life-threatening. The sad thing is, it was detailed in the documentary how common maternal death is, not only in those communities, but around the world. For my major, we are all required to take an Emergency Medical Technician training course, in which we reviewed obstetrics and common emergencies related to it. I also connected with this story because miscarriages are common in one half of my family’s history, and the medical components, in addition to astounding societal challenge, grabbed my attention. The national association of Physician Assistants, or AAPA, has a foundation called Physician Assistants for Global Health. The AAPA assists in funding the works of volunteer PAs on an international level for communities in need. In addition to this, I have heard that there is an option to take a clinical rotation abroad. I feel as though it would be beneficial to look more into this, and see if I could work in communities in need, even while in training. For now, I think I could initiate fundraising projects for this organization during our annual PA week in the fall, so that Quinnipiac’s undergraduate Physician Assistant club could help assist in lowering the drastic number of childbirth related deaths occurring in nations around the world.

 

If you are interested in checking out the organizational page, here is the link!

http://www.pasforglobalhealth.com/

 

Travel log 10: “Encountering Globalization” by Erin Schirra, Gold Coast, Australia

Kevin Robbins poses a question in his piece on globalization, asking the reader, “Is it at all possible, in global times, to sustain a coherent and unified sense of identity?” (242). When looking at the opposing sides of globalization that Robbins brings into light, it is difficult to take a personal stance on which side I agree with. He mentions the side of the spectrum where people are enticed by this new ‘hybrid’ of cultural collision, where a world of many fronts is undergoing a dynamic experience of coming together. He also mentions that on the other side, people fear that allowing these interactions between cultures will remove the very details that make each culture unique or special (242). I believe that it is important as an individual in the global community to define where my ideas of globalization take ground in order to truly reflect on my role and encounters with globalization.

Robbins made a few statements throughout the piece that have impacted how I view my role in this worldwide interaction of culture. One of these is as follows- “[Globalization] is provoking new senses of disorientation and of orientation, giving rise to new experiences of both placeless and placed identity” (242). I think that this represents my stance on globalization most truly. It is the combination of the two ends of the spectrum that make globalization what it is. I think that this dance between keeping cultures unique and bringing cultures together is what produces the beauty of organization. Robbins mentions that globalization results in the creation of space for certain cultures to grow firm in their foundations and what constitutes them. This creation of room reminds me of a quote out of Slimbach’s novel- “The very act of moving from one place to another helps create a space where we can bump up against strangeness and reexamine some of the settled assumptions we hold regarding the world — and ourselves” (Slimbach, p5). In turn, just as the act of physical movement allows for room to figure out who we as individuals are, the mobility of communication across cultures as a result of globalization can do the same. Simultaneously, the intermingling of cultures with one another can allow for the increased definition of what makes a culture what it is.

My encounter with globalization in Australia has been fascinating, as Australia has a combination of different cultures that form the overarching practices of the country, and I have found myself interacting with people from all over the world both at school and in travel. As mentioned in previous travelogs, my Australian Uni is mostly formed by exchange students. Many of us are from the States, but there is a strong presence of people from Europe and Asia alike. The very first week of school, I sat at the bus stop with a guy named Sean. He struck up conversation, and we talked for the entire bus ride home. The conversation was broken, as English was not his first language, but we connected on being new to Australia, caring about school, and TV shows. This represents one positive example of globalization. Because of the movement of media such as television across the world, Sean and I were able to sustain conversation. Even though we were talking about Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory, it led to us speaking on the challenges he had faced in coming to get his master’s degree in an English speaking country, and how culture immersion had impacted both of us. Due to globalization, “the swirling and eddying of humanity mingle ideas, cultures, and values as never before in history” (Robbins 243). In our common ground, we were able to give advice to one another during a transition that we were both facing.

Our class defined Global Community as “All people around the world living by and fighting for similar social values and basic rights” (Worldstar 2017). I think that this still stands true, but it acts as more of a goal of our global community than a representation of where we are at. Instead of the absolute term ‘all,’ I think that we should replace it with ‘the notion of.’ I also think that in addition to the provided definition, Global Community is also the interactions between different cultures that reap both national and worldly knowledge of identity.

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This is a picture of one of the pieces of street art at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia. I think that it represents not just a world map, but also the global language of art. Although there are countless cultures represented across the world, there are also countless universal notions that bring the world together. For me, I think that art is one of those notions.

Works cited

Robins, K., 2002. Encountering Globalization. In: C. Held & A. McGrew, eds. The Global Transformations Reader. Cambridge: Polity. Ch. 20.

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.

Travel Log 9: “Exploring Stereotypes” by Erin Schirra, Gold Coast, Australi

One of my favorite classes that I’ve taken while abroad has been my Australian Pop Culture lecture. Although we focus on the presence of pop culture in all forms of media, entertainment, advertisement, and politics, we have targeted the underlying themes of Australian stereotypes that double as the motives for most of these forms. I find this lecture fascinating, because as we investigate artifacts of pop culture and delve into what constitutes each piece, I notice that I have held many of these Australian stereotypes without realizing it. For example, in class today we watched an Old Spice commercial directed towards the Australian audience. In one of the opening lines, the actor says “I have swum butterfly style through gorilla shark-infested waters to the world’s manliest nation, and pondered the mystique of the world’s manliest men, the Australian men” (Old Spice 2013). The actor speaks of riding kangaroos and is set up with a beach for a backdrop that eventually turns into the Outback. These components of the commercial represent the Americanized stereotypes of Australia- that the men are tough and athletic, that kangaroos roam the streets, and that the beach and the Outback are the biggest sights to see on the continent. The idea that all Australians are active, tan, and surf is one of the most common stereotypes of all. Throughout Australia’s history, there was even a shift of emphasis from the forest, or ‘bush’ as it is called here, to the beach and the culture that surrounds it. Although many Australians enjoy this lifestyle, not every person likes running out to the beach to catch the waves, or laying in the sun. This is a simple stereotype, but it is interesting to analyze the role that it plays in both American and Australian media. The Old Spice commercial also brings up standards of masculinity that have been set by different forms of media since the beginning of Australia’s time.

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This is a screenshot of the ad that, when analyzed, shows a multitude of Americanized stereotypes of Australia. The link to the video can be found below.

The commercial specifically targets the ‘manliest men,’ which follows along the theme of the Australian legend. Books, articles, and reviews have all been written about the Australian legend, who is a man that defies authority, is comfortable with the land, and is a dominant male figure in not only folklore, but also in history itself. From Crocodile Dundee to Steve Irwin, the Australian legend has been drilled into the mindset of people around the world that Australian men are rugged, tough, and one with nature. Yesterday, on my way home from school, I was talking with some locals about the Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney, which is called the “Gay Parade” to celebrate the LGBTQ community, and inclusion. On the contrary, one of the locals mentioned how on the Gold Coast, homophobia is still common, and that it carries across most of the nation. I think that the stereotype of the manly man of Australia ties into the history of the Australian Legend, and the portrayal of Aussie men that is still displayed today. I believe that this ties in to the aforementioned presence of homophobia that I was not as aware of, and would not have noticed had I not conversed with the local on the bus.

On the flipside, I have heard a variety of stereotypes that Australians hold of Americans in my time here. Whether it is about obesity due to large restaurant portions, or the endless questions about Trump, or even stances on gun control, Americans seemed to be sectioned off as one group that all holds the same political and personal beliefs. I know that with everything going on in current politics, the stereotypes that Australians have directed towards me were almost expected. I find the most value, however, in the conversations that come after. For example, Australian gun laws are extremely strict, and after one mass shooting in Tasmania, the government went through every house to buy back any form of a gun. Since then, there hasn’t been another mass shooting. Because of this, it is inconceivable to many Australians that the States will continue to have mass shootings without reforming gun control policies. On both sides of stereotypes, I think that there are always reasons why the stereotyping exists, whether those reasons are valid or not. In the end, it is in the conversations that we have with one another where we can grow the most. Slimbach writes, “The very act of moving from one place to another helps create a space where we can bump up against strangeness and reexamine  some of the settled assumptions we hold regarding the world—and ourselves” (5). Let’s lift up the settled curtain of stereotypes and fill the space with conversations and newfound knowledge!

Works Cited

.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tgiVLva38M.

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.

 

Travel log 8, “Global Responsibility: Part 2” by Erin Schirra, Gold Coast, Australia

As I read the first chapter of Slimbach’s text, I found it fascinating to see the generalizations placed on American study abroad students. It pained me to read the portions of this chapter that I knew carried a validity, and that I could change but haven’t. I also read some of his points that stung because they had been generalized to all of us Abroad students, even though they did not apply.

Even though I do not have “stars-and-stripes patches sewn onto [my] backpack,” I do sometimes feel like I have the word ‘American’ stamped on my forehead (Slimbach 16%). Whether it is in my accent (that people oftentimes refer to as Canadian so they ‘don’t offend me by asking if I am from the States’) or in my inability to walk barefoot around town and the shops because my feet cannot handle the abrasive sidewalk textures, the people around me can usually pick up on the fact that I am not Australian. I do not think that this is because I am ignorant to the cultural norms, or because I am trying my best to integrate a fraction of the American culture into my time here, as Slimbach eludes to.

I do, however, find his statement shortly after to be fascinating in its truth. He writes, describing abroad students as “pampered twenty-somethings who leave home with little preparation, arrive at the program site largely clueless, and rarely break away from the exclusive company of other foreigners” (Slimabch 16%). In the set-up of most programs, Study Abroad students are arranged to live with other Americans, around other Americans, and in buildings that consist majorly of Americans (at least this is the case with my program and many others that I know of). My most frequent contact with Australians tends to be on the bus, running errands, or at townie locations like the beach. I decided that I was not interested in uprooting my normal routines and placing them in a different country with the same ideals. I found that in doing so, I would not leave room for personal growth or ability to experience all that I desired. Because of this, I have put in the conscious effort in my daily actions to not allow myself to be my biggest barrier in cultural immersion. I think that the standards of global responsibility set out by Slimbach greatly apply to study in developing countries, even though I think that certain aspects can be implemented into studying in already developed countries as well, especially cultural consciousness. However, when he writes on the array of poverties, or the presence of starvation, it is hard to title this a global responsibility when its presence mirrors that of my home country. This is why I think that my global responsibility, although similar to my community responsibility at home, entails dropping my coins in the hats of those on the street, or even participating in the ‘Homeless Ban’ rally that occurred while I traveled through a larger Australian city of Melbourne. Regardless of the parallels of this responsibility to those at home, I find it equally necessary to reach out to bridge the gap that exists around the world.

Works Cited

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.

Travel Log 7, “Global Responsibility Part 1” by Erin Schirra, Gold Coast Australia

It is hard to believe that a mere 23 years ago, 800,000 people were stripped of their life during the mass genocide in Rwanda. It is harder to accept that after our world’s history of war and genocide, no one stepped in to help. This image depicts a side-by-side of the United Nations actions then versus now.

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In this image, you can see the discourse in the background of the cottage labeled ‘Rwanda.’ The cottage is clearly in flames and smoking, and people are fleeing from it in fear, pleading for help. Within hearing distance, the United Nations soldier is lounging in the shade of a tree, with clear resources to assist, and a beverage nearby to sip on upon his awakening from his nap. The cartoon then shows the United Nations yelling at a Rwandan soldier for help and assistance, and the aforementioned cottage on fire has transformed into a sustained, well-kept house. This cartoon details the inactivity of the United Nations when Rwanda was in despair, and the call on Rwanda for assistance after all had calmed down.

The preamble of the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ as written by the United Nations contains critical details that support the dis-synchrony between the articles from the document that were broken, and the actions of the United Nations. The first sentence of the preamble states the all of humankind deserves “freedom, justice, and peace in the world” (un.org). It discusses “freedom from fear,” “dignity and worth of the human person,” and “universal respect” before stating the rights that every human, regardless of race, nationality, religion, orientation, gender, etc., has(un.org).

This image directly shows the violation of 3, 5, and 7. Article 3 states, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person” (un.org). The 1994 portrayal shows that those of Rwanda do not have this right to life, freedom, or security, as they are being traumatized and killed. The same reasoning applies to the breaking of principle of Article 5, “[n]o one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment” (un.org). Lastly, Article 7 states that “All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration…” (un.org). Because there was a lack of protection supplied by the United Nations, this protection was not available to the hundreds of thousands of victims of the genocide.

Capable nations around the world should have stepped in to assist in stopping this genocide, yet no one made this move. The UN did not take charge to send help, regardless of the rights that they detailed in their universal declaration. People around the world are suffering from killings and attacks, the most media highlighted having been the Syrian attacks. One would like to hope that the way our world views these violations has shifted for the better, but I have to conclude that unfortunately, the principles and intentions of the world’s reactions seems to have stayed the same.

Works Cited

“International Reaction.” Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2017. <http://humanrights-rwandangenocide.weebly.com/international-reaction.html&gt;.

http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html

Travel Log 6: “The Mindful Traveler” by Erin Schirra, Gold Coast, Australia

The terminology of ‘the mindful traveler’ versus the ‘carefree drifter’ is interesting to me, as at first glance to the assignment prompt, I found myself wanting to characterize myself as a mindful drifter- a socially and culturally conscious individual that has literally and figuratively drifted around the beautiful country of Australia without an agenda (one of my favorite pass-times is floating in the ocean, letting the waves carry me and the wind push me along to wherever I end up). As I began to read Chapter 3, I realized that the substance behind the definitions of both of these terms are what truly matter, and that it is crucial to be consciously aware of all aspects of my surroundings and intentions in my travels. I do believe that ‘mindful traveling’ is a key characteristic of members of the global community. Reading up on the detrimental effects that tourists can have on countries, such as economically, environmentally, socially, and civilly made me realize my privilege and ignorance when it comes to the amount that developing countries undergo to sustain the tourist population (Slimbach, 35%). The image that Slimbach inserted on this page helped me visualize both positive and negative consequences to travelers in these countries, regardless of the mindfulness or lack thereof.

 

Because Australia is not a developing country, I found that although it still extremely important to remain conscious and aware of our impact as education abroad students, I felt as though this chapter resonated with my memories from my time spent in the Philippines much more than with my time here thus far. Slimbach included a quote from Abernathy, a local speaking about the tourists around, saying “’[t]he tourist I’m looking at may make in one year 500 or 600 times what I make. I didn’t use to think of myself as poor, but now I do…Where did they get all that money? It can’t be by just working hard, because we also work hard and look how little we have. Maybe these people are rich because we are poor’” (37%). Although our activities and choices in the Philippines were that of the locals, since we did everything with our family that lived there, it breaks my heart to think that those around us, selling hand-made leis or bamboo placemats, could have felt that way just in our presence. I think that being aware of how we, as outsiders, drastically impact the lives of the locals around us in our travels, is essential to keep in mind wherever we may go.

 

The concept from this chapter that was most applicable to my abroad experience in Australia has to be the ecological mindfulness. Slimbach discusses the carbon footprint we create, placing numeric values on flights (i.e. one ton of CO2 for one person to fly from Canada to Japan), and noting how we can minimalize any additions we may place onto our footprints that we may not realize (38%). During our third day in Australia, the leaders of our education abroad program had a 45 minute discussion with all of us about keeping the country’s environment as clean as it was when we got here. We talked about the amount of carbon dioxide we emitted from our drives to the airport and 26 hours of travel to get to Cairns. We brainstormed the best techniques to minimize our ecological waste, as we had already done so much damage to the environment before even arriving at our destination. Some of the ideas brought included shorter showers, recycling, etc. The nice thing about everywhere that I have been in Australia so far, is that you can turn electrical outlets on and off, depending on if they are being used or not. They have a half flush and full flush function for the toilet to conserve water, and everything is clearly labeled on both the containers and the trash/ recycling receptacles as to what can be recycled. The outdoor showers along the beach have signs reminding you that ‘every drop counts,’ and there are rubbish bins located all throughout public areas to minimize littering. Although I will have emitted more than two tons of carbon dioxide in my flights to and from Australia, it is comforting to know that I am doing everything in my power to keep that emission from getting any greater.


This image is of my scuba diving adventure through the Great Barrier Reef. I think it does justice to my ecological goal while in Australia- to witness and experience the beautiful land and sea in the greenest, least environmentally disturbing way.
Works Cited
Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.

Travel Log 5 “Conversations” By Erin Schirra, Gold Coast Australia

Because the majority of the students at Bond Uni are not from Australia, I found that having a conversation with the friends I have made in classes and at my club meetings would be ineffective, as we share the same culture back in the States. I decided to discuss culture differences and values with my friend Stephanie that I met at a local Catholic church service. Steph was originally born in Indonesia, but her parents moved with herself and her older sister to Australia when she was only four years old. Her youngest sister was even born in Australia! We began the conversation as she was driving me back to my apartment, and we continued to talk even after we arrived. I also decided to have this specific conversation with Steph because we have a lot in common, just from our similar religious foundations. I thought that it would be interesting to evaluate the cultural differences between myself and someone that is the same age, has a similar family life, and holds many of the same beliefs. I also felt more comfortable talking with Steph because she is an all-around genuine and wonderful human being.

In my four weeks on the Gold Coast, I have found that having conversations with local Australians and other students from around the world has deepened my appreciation for my own culture, the diversity of our world, and the potential this study abroad experience has for the development of my knowledge.   I think that it is critical to note that conversations like these should be had throughout the entire abroad experience, and not just for an assignment one out of the twelve weeks. Personally, I feel as though these conversations are what make our rites of passage as fruitful as they can possibly be.

The highlights of our conversation that I will notate in this post include equality versus hierarchy and rank, materialism versus spirituality, and informality versus formality. We found that the idea of class is different between both cultures, especially in how wealth is measured. Money and salaries are more taboo to speak of in Australia, and there is not much value set in ranking one another in society based on income. One specific way that this is exemplified is through their education system. Australians can go to University for free, and they “pay off” their education once they are employed. A certain percentage of their paycheck will go towards the payment of the institution for the current students at Uni. We discussed how different this is from back in the States, and I told her all about the drastic expenses of higher education, and how difficult it can be to afford a degree on families. We came to the conclusion that the value of equality goes a long way in Australia, and the value of status/hierarchy is very present in the increase in the size of the gap between the rich and the poor, as represented via education.

We found discrepancies in our country’s values of materialism versus spirituality as well. It was clear that the Australian values of spirituality were a stark contrast to the American values of materialism. We also noted that these cultural values are overarching an entire community, and do not apply to everyone a member thereof. Because of the similarities between Steph and myself, it was easy to discuss our views on our priorities of spiritual growth over materialistic tendencies. Although Australia is not considered a religious country, the ideas of success revolve much more around mental growth and experiencing as much as possible in one’s lifetime.

Lastly, we found that both the States and Australia see informality as a measure of friendliness and closeness. This similarity, as I told Steph, is one of the reasons why I feel extremely comfortable in Australia. I think that I feel rather comfortable in my community at home as well. However, this does not mean that there are communities that I am not a part of. For this reason, I am selecting the LGBTQ+ community. A few of my friends are members of this community, and although I do not view the community negatively and I am not uncomfortable with it, I have never personally identified with the community. I feel that sitting down with some members of the GLASS club at Quinnipiac could help me look into more of the presence of this community at school and what I can do to integrate this newfound knowledge into my day-to-day life.

Travel Log 4: “Studying Abroad…It’s More Than Just a Walk in the Park” by Erin Schirra, Gold Coast, Australia

I can taste the salt in the air as the moody sea breeze blows my hair out of its already-messy style. I focus on breathing on the rhythm of my steps as the sun hits my shoulders and forehead, and I weave around the skateboarders, bicyclists, walkers, and families on the pathway parallel to the beach. Since I have settled into my new home in the Gold Coast, I have attempted to immerse myself into the active culture ever so present on Broadbeach. Embracing my inner Maureen McGranaghan, I have found that my daily jogs throughout this new city has opened my eyes to the minute details I would have otherwise missed while on the tram or the bus (Slimbach).

In light of last week’s assignment, I decided to hone in on my observations and explore a bit while on one of my runs. Although this was something I had previously noted, it is an observation I find necessary to bring up. Because of the nature of the States versus Australia, the streets run in different directions, the driver’s seat is on a different side, and escalators rise and fall on the opposite side. This makes it easy to stand out as an outsider, when walking on the wrong side of the stairs or on the wrong side of the sidewalk. In the first few minutes of my run, I noted to keep left, in the hopes of limiting my disruption to the ‘norm.’

Another observation I found was the sheer increase in the number of active people out and about. Not only was an extremely wide range of age represented, from the elderly to toddlers, but also a fair share of different physical activities were going on all around me. Someone was washing the sand off of his surfboard at a beach entrance. Another was a dad, running alongside his son as he slowly learned how to ride a bike without training wheels. The park was full of games of touch, rugby, and cricket, while picnics of bystanders cheered on the informal teams. Rollerbladers, scooters, and parents running with baby carriages in front of them is just the tip of the iceberg in the diversity of activity.

I also noted that many people do not find the use of shoes to be necessary. This is not just along the beach area, but throughout the main city as well. I see the displays of tattoos, ranging from full sleeves to smaller and simpler designs. Almost everyone I make eye contact with will smile, or even ask me “how are you going?” (a commonly used term similar to “how are you doing?”). I note the everpresent scent of sunscreen, a constant reminder of the lack of ozone, and can feel the rough stones of the sidewalk against my feet as I try and go barefoot after my run. On my way back from my run, I see a young man and woman intertwining the stems of a few flowers they had picked into the wires of the fence that separates the sidewalk from the sand dunes. I have noticed this section of the fence before, as there always seems to be one or two vibrant flowers among many that have dried up and become brittle. I keep an eye out for this man and woman on my runs now, but since my reflective jog, I have just seen the addition of another new and dead flower to the collection.

Aside from the tiny details, running around Broadbeach seems to have allowed me to join an underlying community within the city: a community of people falling along the entire spectrum of ‘active,’ in which everyone is attempting to absorb as much of the beach air as possible. Just the other day, on Australia Day, three casual bicyclists threw me a high five as we passed each other, and a few other speed walkers and joggers exchanged a friendly “g’day” or “keep it up” as we embraced the Aussie sunshine. Although that is the extent of the verbal communication exchanged, I can already sense the sheer amount that this quiet community will support me, and vice versa.

The beauty of public transport, I have found, is the opportunity to converse with locals around me to get to know them as individuals, and to get to know more about the Gold Coast. Although some people wear headphones while riding, I have found that my 25 minute ride can prove to lead to an extremely fruitful conversation of which both of us grow. Especially with the inauguration as of late, many locals are intrigued once they hear my accent and deduce that I am from the States and not Canada. This exchange not only allows for the increase in my knowledge of local history (5), but also food services (4), current affairs (6), and social etiquette (7) (Slimbach). My bus conversations have ranged from getting a list of local burger joints to discussing the variances of gun control policies in the States versus Oz. I have also optimized the lifts (elevators) to engage in these brief, yet beneficial, conversations. Because the majority of the buildings I utilize on the Gold Coast are skyscrapers, and stairs are only allowed for use in the event of a fire, waiting for and riding on the lifts leaves for a great excuse to strike up a conversation.

The travelogue I selected, Keep Australia on Your Left, is rather interesting, because it details the journey of two men and their mission to kayak around the entirety of Australia. This has been a joy to read, but it is harder to relate my journey thus far to it. Upon reflection, I believe that the challenges faced by the author throughout his journey can symbolize some of the challenges that I have/ will face(d). The challenges that I am certain will come my way are in no means as physically grueling or scary, but evoke similar emotions in my rites of passage experience as Stiller and Tony went through.

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The image above is of the flowers that I pass by on my daily runs. I find it symbolic of our journey as we go abroad, and in our lives altogether when viewing them through the scope of rites of passage. We go through each separation, and then we experience the sheer newness in ultimate vibrancy. Right now, as liminites, we resemble the pink hibiscus. Our heightened awareness allows for us to absorb everything around us. Eventually, as we go through the rites of reincorporation and then again the rites of separation, the vibrancy of our abroad experience will fade, but will still be a crucial member of our collective experiences that create who we are.

Works Cited

Slimbach, Richard. Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Pub., LLC, 2010. Print.