These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: APRIL 2019

See ya later April! You were pretty awesome if I do say so myself! With some epic strings of public holidays, I was able to take my first even paid leave (wow the perks of job security) and have a little holiday. With work swinging into full force (and absolutely loving it) things are going really well. I’ve started back at yoga and taking some time to reflect and reset towards focusing on my health and wellbeing. With the weather cooling down, I’m determined to keep things active and interesting! Before we jump into May, let’s take a look back on the month that was!

🎈Soph’s Birthday

I love birthdays and I love it even more when I get to help celebrate other people’s birthdays. Especially when it’s your girlfriend’s birthday, well it kinda feels like Christmas. I seriously had THE BEST weekend with Soph! On Friday night we went to see Cub Sport at the Enmore in Sydney. We went with Jayno and CMO and boogied the night away. On Saturday, we went on an adventure down to Berry to hike the Drawing Room Rocks track. After a little smokey car incident, we decided to hike the track while we waited for the NRMA. On our run up the mountain, we stumbled across a snake, which completely highlighted my paranoia of snakes apparently. We got to the top, took it all in, then ran back down just in time to meet the NRMA. We topped it all off by enjoying a burger at the Hungry Monkey in Kiama. After a night of bar hopping all over Wollongong and ending up the Harp, even backing it up with a Sunday sesh at North Gong, I think you could call Soph’s birthday weekend a huge success! I love you Soph!

🏖️Byron Bay

Just in case I didn’t get enough Summer, Mum, Elly and I headed to Byron Bay over the Easter break to soak up the last of the beautiful rays of sunshine. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Byron Bay several times before and absolutely loved it. Though I must admit, something felt a little different this time. It’s very busy with lots of tourists (us being some of them). A holiday to me is chillin, eating icecream, going for brunch and drinking all the coffee and beers you want. I didn’t exactly feel those relaxed vibes in Byron, but we had an amazing time around it. On the beach in the sun, relaxed. Swimming in a waterfall, relaxed. Sinking beers at Brunswick Heads, relaxed. Eating fish and chips in Lennox Heads, relaxed. Waiting 45 minutes in traffic driving down the main street of Byron, not relaxing. But thankyou to Mum and Elly for putting up with me and encouraging me to eat ice cream!

🏘️Home for Easter

There’s no place like home. For the Easter long weekend I headed home to Port Stephens. Not only was the weather amazing, but my amazing girlfriend came with me and we got to enjoy some sunshine together. We went to the beach, went walking, grabbing coffee, caught up with my amazing cousin Mel and found some cute but embarrassing photos in old photo albums. It’s nice to smell the familiar scent of home and go to your favourite cafes, and waking up in your very own bed. I may not go home near enough, but I love every second of it when I do.

🎶 Tunes

Slowly Slowly
Aw damn I have been loving these guys! Their Like A Version was incredible and I’ve since been digging deeper into their album! Damn it brings back all my teenage angst by rocking out to this grungy sound. Love love love!

Beyonce and Beychella
Ok so this one straddles music and film. Call it what you want but wow! Really, what a goddess! I seriously got emotional during parts of her performance. Especially during ‘Flawless.’ You don’t have to be the biggest Beyonce fan to recognise the immense impact she’s made on the music industry, in popular culture, and especially for young women of colour. I feel so strong and empowered listening to her music but I know that what she represents is not targeted at me. I can’t even begin to imagine the impact Beyonce has made on the lives of people of colour in Australia and across the world. I am in absolute awe and I think this is an incredible work of art.

🎥Flicks

Made In Dagenham
I absolutely loved this film! Based on a true story of the fight for equal pay during the 60s in England, this film is a great reminder of the fight for gender equality and the struggle to have women’s work recognised as skilled work deserving of equal pay. A part of the film that particularly stood out to me was when a woman who held a First Class Honours Degree from Cambridge in History and Political Science, was only respected by her husband when she was cooking and cleaning.

The Green Book (March)
So I forgot to add this to my March Favourite Things, but I actually went to the cinema to watch this film (yes cinemas actually exist). OMG I absolutely loved it! And it wasn’t because of the fact that I got the popcorn all to myself. It won the Oscar for best picture yet received a lot of criticism for ‘white saviourism.’ Whilst there’s no denying the complexities of race in this film, taking it at face value, it was brilliant. On a deeper, more critical level, I think the ‘Western white’ gaze is used to portray the South and Dr Shirley, but nonetheless, I would strongly recommend this flick.

📚 Books

No Friend But The Mountain, by Behrouz Boochani
Wow. This book is absolutely incredible and when you find out how it was written, curated and leaked from Manus, you will find it even more incredible. I am a passionate advocate for refugees and asylum seekers. It is not illegal to seek asylum. But it is illegal to detain these people indefinitely. Due to the secrecy of the offshore detention centres run by the Australian government, receiving information about what actually happens in these prisons has been very limited. Behrouz’s story is important. It is the story of many and it is a story that should never be allowed to happen again.

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
This book is so powerful. Whilst it claims to be a fictional book, it is too close to reality for too many people. It tells the story of Starr who is the only witness to the murder of her friend by a white police officer. After being disgusted with the treatment of people of colour around the world by police, this book is aggravating, frustrating but reality. I smashed this one out in a few days because it’s very visual, easy to read and in the end, you just want the justice that the main character wants.

Any Ordinary Day, by Leigh Sales
I’m pretty skeptical when a book becomes ‘mainstream.’ Are we all just reading the same thing, forming the same opinions and becoming a herd of the same people? It took me a while to jump on board with Leigh Sales’ new book, but I am so grateful that I did. I smashed this one out in three days because I was absolutely hooked by the stories she was sharing and the message she had to convey. I really do believe the universe has our backs and has a plan for us, but at the end of the day, we are stupid to think we are special in being spared the pain, suffering and tragedy we see on the news every night. The one certainty we have in life is that we will die. My mission is to make sure it’s all for a reason.

📸 Bloggers, Vloggers and Podders

Sexism and the City
I absolutely love Jan Fran and am literally obsessed with everything she produces. When I found out she had this podcast, I absolutely binged it. WOW. I have the biggest crush on Jan Fran and it’s so inspiring to deep dive into the ways in which gender inequality affects women around the world. If you’re interested in travel, pop culture, politics and feminism, this is for you!

Roeqie
I absolutely love following this account! Her artwork is so bright, colourful and joyful. I love seeing when it pops up on my feed and I feel instantly brighter and lighter. I need more of this on my Insta feed and in my life!

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Speaking of brighter and lighter, I am loving Chessie King’s Instagram account. I just stumbled across it and love the positive body vibes! Her videos are fantastic and I know it may sound superficial but it’s so nice seeing a real body with rolls, flabby bits, curves and cellulite. We put so much pressure on ourselves based on the ‘perfect’ bodies we see on Instagram, but they’re not so real afterall. Chessie is sweet, fun, sexy and a great addition to my Insta feed ‘sparking joy’ all over my life!

📝 Quote

Given the book I just finished I guess this quote has just really resonated with me. Like I said, there’s no guarantee for tomorrow. And life is one big crazy rollercoaster. My main mission in life is to firstly enjoy it, and secondly, make it matter. Be grateful for what I have and continue to grow to be the person I want to be. Whether that’s meeting new people, trying new things, pushing my boundaries, travelling or simply taking in a sunrise, I want to keep growing and enjoying the ride.

April, wow. What a whirlwind. I am so grateful for the amazing times I’ve had with some amazing people. May, bring it on!

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: OCTOBER 2017

I’M FINISHED MY DEGREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! OMG! Words really cannot describe how I’m feeling (maybe a little hungover from all the celebrations) but damn 4 years, two degrees and I’m finally done! I’m sure with my new found spare time I’ll be blogging about how it actually feels. This month has been a roller coaster, finishing a degree and applying for another is stressful. But I made it and now I can finally relax and celebrate my achievement. Let’s have a look back on the tumultuous month that was October.

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💃🏻 Feeling Confident and Proud of Myself

OK so I know this is super lame and cliché, but this month I’ve felt incredibly proud of everything I’ve achieved across my 4 years at uni. And not just uni related, but in a lot of aspects of my life. This month I spoke at the National Leadership Conference, worked hard at work, have been smashing out my uni assignments, taking time for my friends, boyfriend and myself…. and I think I’ve made it out rather unscathed. I know it may seem a bit la di dah, but every now and again it’s important to take a step back and think, damn…. I’m doing well. And I think that’s what finishing a degree means.

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🇫🇷 French

For those of you who don’t know, French is my major for one of my degrees, and it’s definitely one of the skills I’ve struggled and worked extremely hard at. Learning a language is extremely difficult, and therefore it’s important you have a good support system around you. I’m incredibly grateful for my bobos who have supported me through this last and final year of French. Not only in the classroom, but helping me indulge in my obsession with cheese, by arranging wine and cheese nights out at the Throsby. I’m super proud of my level of French and it’s definitely one of the life skills I want to continue to improve. Alors merci beaucoup mes bobos, je ne survivrais pas sans vous. 

 

 

 

 

🎓 DEGREE!!!

I have officially submitted my final assignment for my Bachelor of Communications & Media Studies – Bachelor of International Studies (Deans Scholar) – Majors: Global Media, French Minor: Global Sustainable Development

Woooo!

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🎶 Tunes

BØRNS. Damn this track is absolutely fabulous. The dance moves are to die for, and the music is just stunning. Always puts me in such a good mood.

Demi Lovato. OK for any of you who know me quite well, you’ll know that this is absolutely, completely NOT the sort of music I usually go for. But DAMN this album is actually amazing. My friend Chloe and I secretly disclosed this info to each other. ‘Hey have you heard Demi Lovato’s new album?’ ‘Yeah!’ ‘OMG it’s actually good’ ‘OMG thank god you think that, I’ve been listening to it on repeat!’ 

🎥 Flicks

Lovelace. THIS FILM IS AMAZING!!! It’s an incredibly story and filmed in such an exciting yet deeply sad way. I’ve been finding some amazing flicks on SBS On Demand so make sure you keep an eye out there for some amazing flicks!

📗Books

So apparently I’ve been on a bit of a reading rampage this month… reading is so rewarding and relaxing I always try to take time before bed to do some reading and put my mind to rest for the night.

Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay. I’ve been wanting to read this book for such a long time and I finally got my hands on it. For anyone grappling with their identity as a woman, or as a feminist, I would highly recommend this book. It’s easy to read and broken into distinctive chapters that address a broad variety of issues such as race, assault, entertainment and identity.

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Violent Borders – Reece Jones. At the beginning of this book, Jones discusses a small Spanish city called Melilla. He then mentions that the city is actually located in Morocco. Literally stop what you’re doing and look it up on Google Maps, it will amaze you! He then discusses how Spain is a part of the EU and therefore migrants from Northern Africa risk everything trying to make it into the fortressed city of Melilla to land on EU soil and be processed correctly as refugees. You can read more about Melilla here (I honestly was so amazed by this!) but this book is a fantastic look at the current refugee crisis and examines how nations (even including Australia) are struggling to manage their borders.

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1984- George Orwell. MIND. BLOWN! I honestly couldn’t put this book down. It was miserable, depressing, gripping and real. I read it in about a week and I think I could’ve easily smashed it out quicker than that! Cannot recommend enough. Also after classic book recommendations, so if you’ve got them, send them through!

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📷 Bloggers and Vloggers

👼 Twenty Something Mummy. I’ve never met Lucy myself, but I grew up in the same area as her and have followed her on Instagram for quite a while. She’s recently started vlogging and I’m really enjoying watching her! It’s definitely content I’m not used to seeing as I don’t exactly follow many mums on Instagram, but I love her voice and think it’s a real value being added to the whole ‘Twenty Something’ millennial community. Definitely go check her out!

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💛 🌻 ✈️  Raya Was Here

I’ve always been a fan of Raya’s channel, but lately her Instagram has been POPPIN! I’m absolutely in love. She’s such a positive and bright person who is such an inspiration to so many people! And that yellow dress!

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📝 Quote

The following quotes translates to ‘we are our choices.’ Jean-Paul Sartre was a French writer who turned down the Nobel Prize for literature (yep I learnt that in my French class – impressed bobos?). But this really resonated with me. Each and every day we make choices, that determine how we feel, our attitude, feelings, outlook on life… Each and every choice we make has the power to change our lives. We are our choices, so take pride in these choices to live your best life.

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Well… what a month. It absolutely flew by I can’t believe it. In the blink of an eye, I’ve finished my degree. November holds some pretty exciting things in store so definitely watch this space because I have a hell of a lot more free time which means blogging and vlogging!

Much love!

Walking in the Shoes of a Refugee: MEXICO Week 2

Hola chicas! Cómo estás? As you can tell, my Spanish is going quite well! My stomach on the other hand, not quite. Our 2nd week in Mexico City has been equally full on as our first week (if you missed what happened, you can catch up here). We’ve learnt a lot, visited numerous museums and cultural sites and had one of the scariest nights of my life. Let’s have a look at what we got up to this week!

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Free Day

Woo! We finally got a day off which meant an epic sleep in. Most of us used this day to relax and reset ourselves in preparation for the crazy week ahead of us. I used this day to remember my time in Mexico City forever! I got a TATTOO! Victoria and I headed to ‘Soul Flower’ in La Condesa to get some ink. The guy who gave us our tattoo was so awesome! His name was Jorge and he was from Honduras. He owns his own tattoo shop in Costa Rica where he now lives, and is currently travelling around to tattoo conventions in Mexico and Guatemala. After everything I’ve learnt about Honduras, I was really glad to have a part of his story with me.

 

 

There seems to be a fair few birthdays this month! And this week we celebrated two! One Monday night we went out for tapas and lots of wine, making it the perfect way to wind down after our hectic first week.

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Cultural Visits

This week we experienced A LOT of Mexican culture! Our first visit was on Tuesday afternoon to the Blue House (also known as the house of Friday Kahlo and Diego Rivera – two of the most renowned Mexican artists). If you haven’t already – watch the movie Frida on Netflix. It’s pretty much where I learnt the most about Frida and her life. Then getting to wander the corridors where she lived, see her artwork, her garden and bedroom was absolutely incredible!

After the Blue House, we went around the corner to visit the house where Leon Trotsky lived and was killed. For those of you who don’t know (don’t worry, I learnt this information at the house itself), Trotsky was a part of the Russian opposition government during the time of Stalin. When Stalin took power, it made Trotsky an enemy of the state so him and his wife fled to Mexico. They moved to Mexico because Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo supported the Mexican Communist party and thus their connection. After Kahlo and Trotsky had an affair, Trotsky moved to a different house. There was an attempted murder where one of Stalin’s guys stabbed him with an ice pick but he survived. He then appointed guards to his house and basically lived in a fortress. Yet that was no stopping Stalin as he was later killed by gunshot which sprayed his entire room. You can still see those bullet marks in the wall today. And there you go, some Russian history in the streets of Mexico City.

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Tula

On Saturday we visited the archeological site of Tula. It’s funny because you almost get used to thinking ‘oh, another ancient pyramid.’ Nonetheless, we explored, climbed it and learnt about how in Tula, they forbid human sacrifice to the Gods, so it seems it was quite a progressive society.

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Ballet

On Sunday night we were treated to a night at the ballet! A group of us, along with our professional tour guide, Arnaldo, headed downtown to the Opera House. This is an ABSOLUTE MUST for anyone going to Mexico City. It’s a mix of ballet and Mexican folk dance and it was simply stunning – we couldn’t wipe the smile off of our face!

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Floating Markets

Sunday we went to the incredible Floating Markets. Think Venetian gondola meets Mexican fiesta! We all boarded the little boat with a few beers in hand and we floated through the canals and around markets. In all honesty, it’s a bit difficult to describe, so I made this vlog instead!

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Class

Class this week was equally as intensive. One of my favourite days was taught by an incredible woman, Frida Espinosa who spoke to us about gender, health and migration. I could really feel my previous thoughts and ideas being challenged, evolving and honestly learning a lot. It was such a great class because it’s a perspective that is not often taken in the discussion of migration.

Next week we also have presentations so we started working out what groups we wanted to be in and brainstorming some ideas.

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Professional Site Visits

The site visit on Friday to the Transit Migrant Shelter called Casa del Samaritano in Hidalgo, was definitely a group highlight. This shelter is located on the train line for migrants taking ‘La Bestia’ (The Beast – the notorious train that migrants are known for climbing onto). It is a safe place for them to have a warm meal, call their loved ones, get new clothing if needed, and then head back off on their journey.

The general consensus of our group was that we felt that we actually did something productive and useful to help these people. People helped in the kitchen, helped clean our some of the shelter and I was on phone duty. Helping the migrants dial their respective countries, where they could make a 3minute phone call. Despite the language barrier, we were still able to converse quite well and find out information about their lives and reasons why they were migrating. All of the migrants were males from Honduras, aged between 17 and 64. One young man, aged 22, had actually been living in Utah with his wife and two children when he was caught without documents and deported back to Honduras. So it was his second time attempting to cross the border.

As we were leaving so were the migrants as they headed along the train tracks. A train ripped by our bus and the migrants, when they started running. We saw one young man grab a ladder of a carriage and get pulled along until he could finally jump onto the carriage, leaving his new found friends behind and taking his chances on The Beast. The rest of the group continued walking along the train tracks. That is an image that is etched into my mind and I don’t think I could ever forget those brave young men.

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That evening we did one of the craziest things I’ve ever done in my entire life. At the Alberto Eco Park, they run simulation border crossings and we were signed up. We were forewarned to wear clothes that we didn’t mind getting dirty and sturdy shoes. At approximately 9:30pm, when it was pitch black, a man in a balaclava pulled up in his ute and started screaming at us to gather together. He called our names and we were led into the bush. And thus began the next 3.5hours of running, hiding from ‘border force,’ bandits, drug dealers, crossing swinging bridges, climbing through dark tunnels, trudging through thick mud, hiding in a group on the ground, accidentally falling into cacti, and worst of all, having blanks being shot at us. It was terrifying, thrilling, exciting, scary and an experience we’ll never forget.

We finished at about 1am where a man talked to us about why he decided to create this experience. He said he wanted people to physically attempt to walk a mile in a migrants shoes and at the end of the day, you know it’s not real and you can go back to your comfortable bed and sleep peacefully. These migrants and refugees do not have such privilege and there’s no escaping the reality of violence and fear. It was extremely touching and incredibly motivating to each of us. It reminded us why we were here studying immigration and made us all the more passionate and motivated to make a difference.

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Week 2 was quite crazy indeed, but it was nothing short of incredible! I can’t believe we’re heading into our last week this week! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us!

Tacos & Tequila: Week 1 In MEXICO CITY

Mexico, that country that speaks Spanish, is renowned for its tacos and tequila and apparently Trump doesn’t like people from there. That’s about the extent of my knowledge of Mexico before arriving and commencing my studies in its capital, Mexico City. So how did I end up here? Well you may recall that around this time last year, I was completing a short course in La Rochelle, France, with a company called AIM Overseas (you can read about my experiences in France here). And after having such a life changing and incredible experience in France, I looked into their programs to see how I can escape another Australian Winter.

That’s when I came across their program taught at the University of La Salle in Mexico City titled ‘Immigrants, Human Rights & Mexican Society.’ Damn what a mouthful hey! Since I’m studying International Studies with Communications & Media Studies, I’ve always been fascinated, concerned and frustrated with current social and political perspectives towards migration, especially of refugees desperately trying to reach Australia. After finding out that I could receive a second OS Help Loan, I found myself being accepted into the program and on my way to Mexico City to study something that I’m deeply passionate about.

So here’s a look into what happened in our first week in Mexico City!

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Taking in the view of a city of 22million

Arriving

Arriving in a new destination, particularly one you’ve never been to before and don’t speak the language, can be extremely daunting. Luckily, La Salle organises an airport pick up. So there was someone at the airport to greet me with a friendly ‘Hola!’ From there, I joined a crew of other students in my program and in the Public Health Program (another AIM Overseas program offered at La Salle), and we filed onto the bus to take us to our new homes. Our ‘Immigrants’ group is staying at a lovely hotel in the funky, safe and colourful neighbourhood called La Condesa. I met my roomie, Rosie from the University of Melbourne. She’s a red head too, so we came to the understanding that they matched us based on our hair colour – but we get along really well so AIM definitely did a great job.

Across our arrival weekend, I met the other students in the program from all different degrees and from universities all across Australia. This diversity, I could tell, would be extremely valuable when it comes to discussing such a complex topic of migration. And to top it off, everyone is like minded and passionate about the same thing as you, so it’s safe to say that everyone is pretty damn cool.

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The colours of La Condesa, our funky neighbourhood

Classes

On Monday morning we were escorted to the university so we could take notes on directions. Luckily La Salle is a quick 10-15minute walk away from the hotel. Monday was our Orientation day where we were given a tour of the university and neighbourhood, we discussed our schedule for the three weeks, took our photos for our student ID’s and had an awesome welcome lunch.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were quite intense days of classes. We covered everything from Contemporary Mexican Society, Mexico-US Migration Management and Human Rights and Legal Issues surrounding Migration. Tuesday and Thursday afternoon we had our crucial ‘Survival Spanish’ classes where we covered important topics like how to order a beer and make sure you don’t order the super spicy tacos! All of our classes have been taught by extremely passionate and inspiring professor’s making the long days of class very engaging, interesting and informative.

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Some of the sites and colours you can expect to find downtown

Professional Site Visits

As much as this course is academic, it is equally practical where we get to immerse ourselves in the realities for many migrants and refugees arriving to Mexico. On Friday, we visited ‘Casa de los Amigos’ and ‘Casa Tochan’, both are houses providing support and accommodation for newly arrived migrants and refugees. At Casa de los Amigos, we were given a tour of their facilities and a presentation going through some of the services they provide these people. They receive migrants and refugees mostly from Central American countries like Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, however when we visited they had several refugees from Somalia and Cameroon. It just goes to show that as long as there is conflict and danger, people will go to all lengths to find somewhere safe for themselves and their families.

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Outside Casa de Los Amigos

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Kindness is a universal language

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After our presentation from Casa de los Amigos

After Casa de los Amigos, we headed to Casa Tochan, a much smaller house, yet doing some pretty incredible things and making a real difference to those looking for support, shelter, food, services and kindness. At Casa Tochan, I met three Honduran refugees, aged 17, 19 and 22. They told us their stories (with the help from a translator) and it was an incredibly powerful, emotional and confronting experience. One of the young boys entire family had been murdered in Honduras and therefore, he was escaping out of fear of being next. It was all very raw and emotional, yet the part that I’ll never forget was when another girl on the program asked how they felt with us coming to visit Casa Tochan. They responded that they were so grateful because it makes them feel like there’s people out there that actually care about them and the situation they’re in. I must admit, I spent a lot of the afternoon wiping away tears from my eyes because I was so overwhelmed with their kindness, hope and strength. The reality of looking someone directly in the eye and creating a bond that transcends language, culture or class is an experience that can never be taken away and to those young boys that I had the absolute honour of meeting, I will never forget their bravery.

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The mural painted in the common area at Casa Tochan

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Our group and awesome tour guides

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A mural on the street near Casa Touchan painted by migrants. This bird is the national bird of Honduras and it represents the freedom they’ve gained from spreading their wings.

Other Events

Friday afternoon we were treated to a salsa class, a fun way to lift spirits and get in a good work out. For anyone thinking that salsa is all about the skirts, you’re wrong. Be prepared to sweat!

This weekend was a hectic weekend of soaking up a lot of culture and history. On Saturday we headed to the famous Pyramids! Walking among thousands of years of history sure was memorable. On the way back to the city, we stopped at the Basilica de Guadalupe, the second most important Catholic religious site, the first being the Vatican.

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Rosie and I conquering the Sun Pyramid

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The Immigration group & Public Health group after galavanting all around the Pyramids.

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The 1st and 2nd Basilica de Guadalupe. Because of the ground it’s built on, the buildings are actually sinking, meaning that not many buildings are straight. But it sure adds character.

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On Sunday we were completely immersed in the hustle and bustle of Mexico City and given a tour of downtown. We visited the Cathedral, the old palace with murals by Diego Rivera (OMG fan girl!) and Templo Mayor. To add to the craziness of downtown, there was also a really popular football match on where they had big screens everywhere!

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One of my very good friends actually lives in Mexico City. His name is Victor and we met when he came to Wollongong on exchange in my first year. 3.5years later, he was showing me around his home town, complete with tacos, tequila and pulques. Being reunited with old friends is definitely one of the best things about travel and I’m so grateful that he’s been able to show me around such an incredible city.

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Victor and I

Well I honestly don’t know where times gone. 1 week down, 2 more to go. One thing I’m really realising is just how fortunate I am to be given such a unique opportunity of studying one of our century’s most complex and urgent movement of people, in a country that is so heavily involved in the process, whether it be sending, receiving or simply a transit for people, Mexico and immigration go hand in hand. In the 1 week I’ve been here, I’ve learnt more about Mexico City and Mexican Society than I have in my whole life and I’m quickly learning that there’s much more to this incredible place than tacos and tequila (yet still very important).

[You can follow my adventures on Instagram @aworldlyaddiction]

 

The Little Red Shirt That Captured The World’s Attention For All Of The Wrong Reasons

Aylan Kurdi’s body was found on a beach in Turkey in September 2015. Lifeless, his innocent body was dressed in a little red shirt and boots. At just three years old, Aylan Kurdi brought immediate light to a crisis previously ignored by the mainstream media and the rest of the world. When I first saw this image in September 2015, I remember staring blankly at my computer screen with tears rolling down my cheeks. I wasn’t sad or angry, I felt numb and empty. I remember being mesmerised by his little red shirt. There is no denying the overwhelming sadness this image brings us. However, there are certain questions and issues around this image that are important for us to address as we look through a lens at people and a world far from us.

 

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Refugees rescued from the coast of Libya. Source

Why this image?

Thousands of photos have been captured documenting the enormous movement of people since the beginning of the refugee crisis during the Arab Spring. The photo above is an example of a photo that would typically be used by the media to sensationalize and dehumanize refugees and their threat to our way of life (Klocker & Dunn, 2003).

‘Images of children suffering form the ultimate emotional argument, compelling us to move from sentiment to action, from the particular to the universal, from passivity to engagement’ (Kennicott, 2013). People around the world reacted to this image. It may not have been for the right reasons, but they saw shame and horror that they couldn’t ignore. (Sontag, 2003).

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Cover of the Independent showing the body of Aylan Kurdi. Source

To look or not to look? To publish or not to publish?

A debate which arose following the publication of the photograph of Aylan’s body was whether or not to show the image, and whether or not we should be looking. Channel 10’s The Project stated that they would not show the image as it was ‘too distressing for viewers’ (Ting, 2015), followed by host, Carrie Bickmore, breaking down expressing ‘I am lucky that I and my children live in Australia’ (Ting, 2015).

“A picture of a dead child is one of the golden rules of what you never published.” (Laurent, 2015)

What is interesting is that the network’s primary concern is the wellbeing of its viewers. That they’re doing their audience a favour by not subjecting them to such horror of the reality of this migrant crisis. What about Aylan? His father? His Aunty? What about their distress and suffering?

A view that some may share with Sontag, is that by capturing images of suffering, ‘where news has been converted into entertainment for a small, educated population living in the rich part of the world, is that everyone becomes a spectator, suggesting that there is no real suffering in the world’ (Richard, 2010). Richard then goes on to suggest that we as ‘consumers of globalized media should refuse to look at photographs of suffering because suffering’s urgency is thereby diminished’ (Richard, 2010).

 ‘Perhaps the only people with the right to look at images of suffering, are those who could do something to alleviate it.’ (Sontag, 2003, pp. 37)

The Independent (as illustrated above) took another stance by putting Aylan on the front cover. By doing this, they are refusing to igrnore this issue and reaching out to those with the right to look who can do something about this suffering. And is that something that we as global citizens should be doing? Educating ourselves about what is happening in the world, and being motivated to do something about it.

The West vs. The Rest

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One of the many cartoons that emerged after the image was published. Source

Laurent expresses that the child’s ethnicity played a critical part of the photo’s reception. He explains that ‘dozens of African kids have been washed up on the beaches of Libya and were photographed and it didn’t have the same impact’ (Laurent, 2015). This is then illustrated by Carrie Bickmore and the world’s reaction thinking that could be my child. Ethnocentrism is a key issue in mainstream media, why do we only pay attention when there are terrorist attacks in Paris but not Aleppo? Is it up to us as global citizens to seek global news, or should we sit back in our beach chairs and wait for it to be handed to us on the front page of a newspaper?

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‘Hope for a New Life’ Warren Richardson. Source 

Other significant images of struggle and suffering

Whilst the image of Aylan Kurdi’s body is one whose importance will linger, there are many other significant photographs which capture the struggle and suffering of refugees. The image above ‘Hope for a New Life’ was captured by Australian photographer Warren Richardson in August 2015. A baby is being passed through the border from Serbia in to Hungary (World Press Photo, 2016). This image won the World Press Photo of the Year, a highly prestigious title in the name of visual journalism. And looking back over the past winners, there have been many which carry a similar theme. Where an audience sits at their computer screen, flicking through winning photographs of people subjected to torture, abuse and suffering absolutely unimaginable.

Moving On

We have two options. The first is to look away. We can ignore this little boy, face down on a beach, and lay on our beach chairs and carry on with our lives. Something the Australian government would prefer to do. Or we can choose to look, we can choose to be upset, confronted or angry. And we can choose to do something about it.

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When I went to the ‘Let Them Stay’ rally in Wollongong on the 20th March 2016.

 

Further Information

You can see, what I regard, the most important photo of 2015, Aylan Kurdi found on the Turkish beach, here.

You can see the Project’s take on reporting this news here. 

References

Klocker, N & Dunn, K. M 2003, Who’s driving the asylum debate? Newspaper and government representation of asylum seekers, ‘Media International Australia incorporating media and policy’, No.109, pp. 71-92

Laurent, O 2015, ‘What the image of Aylan Kurdi says about the power of photography’, Time, 4 September, viewed 19 March 2016, http://time.com/4022765/aylan-kurdi-photo/

Kennicott, P 2013, ‘Why Syria’s images of people suffering haven’t moved us’, The Washington Post, 13 September, viewed 20th March 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-syrias-images-of-suffering-havent-moved-us/2013/09/13/30407f98-1bb3-11e3-8685-5021e0c41964_story.html

Richard, F 2010, ‘The Thin Artefact: On Photography and Suffering’, The Nation, 23 November, viewed 19 March 2016, http://www.thenation.com/article/thin-artifact-photography-and-suffering/

Sontag, S 2003, Regarding the Pain of Others, Chapter 3, Hamish Hamilton, London, England, pp. 36-52

Ting, I 2015, ‘The Project’s Carrie Bickmore breaks down over image of drowned Syrian toddler’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 September, viewed 19 March 2016, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/the-projects-carrie-bickmore-breaks-down-over-image-of-drowned-syrian-toddler-20150904-gjetma.html

World Press Photo, 2016, ‘World Press Photo of the Year’, World Press Photo, 28 August 2015, http://www.worldpressphoto.org/collection/photo/2016/spot-news/warren-richardson