I was very fortunate to be selected as one of the students to be flown to Broome by my university. During this sponsored trip, I have been tasked to promote tertiary education to the students from the Kimberley region. This is my first trip ever to Broome and I was beyond excited when I knew I was selected to go on this trip. This trip has been an eye opener to me and sitting in front of a computer screen now, I would love to pen my thoughts and reflection about the past week in Broome.
Reflecting upon the people that I have come across during the week has made me realised how fortunate I am to be living in the metropolitan area. I feel so fortunate and lucky to have access to better education and infrastructure such as faster internet. I believe fundamentally in education equality and upon returning, I feel like my work does not stop there. This trip has helped me realise how important it is for us to continue to fight to close the education inequality gap. There are so much work that still need to be done to help these young Australians to achieve their full potential and pursue their dream. In particular, I have come across this young brilliant Aboriginal boy who is gifted with this wonderful intelligence and I wish he has been given the opportunity to access to better education. I believe with his knowledge and intelligence, he is one young Australian waiting to shine if he is given the opportunity.
During the week, I spoke with parents, teachers and the Broome community. Their stories have touched me in so many ways and in particular, I met this wonderful young Year 12 student who has a huge potential and bright future ahead of him. He dreams of attending university but his greatest obstacle is relocating from Kununurra to Perth. I knew straight up that I wanted to help this boy because again, I believe that tertiary education should not be a privilege for some, rather it should be accessible to all Australians no matter where you come from. This has further reassured me that we need more funds to help students from rural areas to relocate. We need moral support too for these students to help them pursue their dreams. Above all, we need a government that funds education because education fundamentally is an important and powerful tool to empower our youths. We should never ever back down from funding education. We continuously need bright minds to help our country to advance forward.
The teachers up in the Kimberley region are doing an absolutely noble job. I laud them for what they have been and are doing. Many teachers whom I have crossed path with are originally from Perth. They have been relocated to Broome and other regional areas. Most of these teachers have never looked back since. Growing up in city or pretty much being a city boy my entire life, I have never ever had such fond and respect for teachers until I was up in Broome. These teachers have sacrificed everything in Perth, be it the convenience or the least extreme summer days, to be in the Kimberley region to spread knowledge. Some teachers have been up in Broome for more than two decades and have called Broome their home. On top of that, most teachers have become a mentor and a friend to many of these students. Everyday they inspire these school children to chase their dreams and pursue better education. No word can describe how much respect I have for these teachers.
Broome is truly a melting pot of different cultures. Broome is home to many Aboriginal Australian, Caucasian, Chinese, Malay and Philippines etc. Everyone from all walks of life live together as one and you can truly feel what a multicultural society is. The kids play sports, participate in class activities and hang out together no matter what their skin colour is. The teachers show equal love and respect to the students and the students reciprocate the same in return. A week in Broome has allowed me to immerse myself in a town full of positive energy and vibe. Everyone is not rushing through a chaotic life like back home. Everyone knows their neighbour. Even as I walked through the shops, I met strangers whom yet warmly greeted you “Good Day” with a smile. I felt like as if I had gone back in time when things were simpler and less complicated. As I looked back, I understand why many decides to return to their hometown or decides to call Broome their home.
The simplest joy in life is perhaps enjoying good food, surrounded by people whom you love. During my stay in Broome, I am invited to a dinner at one of the Aboriginal students’ home. Tian’s parents have cooked up a storm for us, serving us the best of Broome. Never ever I have savoured such fine fresh prawns. I decided that to do things the local way. I stood by a rubbish bin, peeling off the prawns’ shell and enjoying every single bite. I learned that the local will find it offensive if we do not help ourselves to second round of food and boy I have no trouble with that. Seafood up in Broome is so fresh and delicious. The crabs that Tian’s parents have caught were huge and the flesh tasted so delicious. I was on cloud nine when we were served smoked oysters and smoked red snapper (which is gigantic!). The local seafood was so fresh and cooked to perfection. I adore the warm hospitality that Tian and her family has shown for us. Perhaps it was the best and unforgettable night out of all evenings as we gathered at the backyard, savouring fresh produce from the region. I can never forget the joy from the delicious seafood and neither can I forget the warm hospitality from the family. It was all beyond my wildest dream and as I recounted the evening, part of me wish to hop on a plane back to Broome now to savour these delicious seafood once again.
Like all things, everything has to come to an end. As I boarded my plane back to Perth, I knew in many ways my trip to Broome has changed me. I adore the warm hospitality of the locals, the positive vibes around the community and above all, I reaffirm my personal stand on education equality. Even the trip has come to an end, I know these lifetime memories and friendship will stay with me forever. Travel, I believe too, is one of the best life experiences one can ever have. I still remember a t-shirt that I once bought that resonates Dalai Lama’s saying “Go at least once a year to a place you’ve never been before.” Travel is not only just about seeing new places, it is about experiencing new cultures and experiences and above all, learning to see life in a whole new perspective.
This trip is sponsored by the University of Western Australia and supported by Aspire UWA, School of Indigenous Studies and SciTech WA.