University Hall Aboriginal Cultural Project

Hello hallers and everyone,

During the winter break, I was given the opportunity to participate in the University Hall Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Program. Eight of us were selected and we headed down to Geraldton in a mini-van driven by Annaleis! At first, I didn’t know what to expect from this trip but it turned out to be really interesting and exciting than I anticipated. We spent a good 2 weeks from doing various things for the community of Geraldton. The trip was to help us gain a better cultural understanding of Aboriginals, their culture and help out with the local community.

All ready for the Aboriginal Cultural Project!!

Matthew, Aaron, Daniel, Yumi, Madeleine, PeiWen, Eric and Louisa

One big part of the program was helping out with NAIDOC week celebrations held at Bundiyarra. We were there quite alot to help out with preparations for the celebrations. Some of us sewed bundings, painted walls, did badge making, weeded out the community gardens and many more activities. The process was long but when we finally accomplished our roles, we were all very satisfied and happy. This was especially when all of us helped wrapped 1000 potatoes in aluminium foil in 2 hours!! What a feat, and really memorable for me. The celebrations on the actual day was also very memorable as we helped to serve food to the guests and there were such a huge crowd and festivities all round. So much to do and see. We were all kept busy. That was only a part of our trip, we also got to see the sights of North which had really wonderful nature and scenery, plant trees with high school students and many more.

Helping out at Aboriginal Corporation Bundiyarra

Helping out at Aboriginal Corporation Bundiyarra

Tree Planting

Tree Planting

Bundiyara Naidoc week celebrations

Bundiyara Naidoc week celebrations

I had many firsts on this trip. If I never went, I would never barbecue a marshmellow at my first campfire, spoke to so many people from different cultural backgrounds, learn about the aspects of Aboriginal culture, visit the Pinnacles, went for my first dawn service, plant trees, canoe on a river, learn to value of team bonding and step out of my comfort zone. All of which I am very grateful to have got this valuable experience!!

The trip allowed all of us eight Unihallers to bond as we had to work together as a team to make things happen. In my opinion, it was a great and meaningful way to spend my winter break. I gained alot in understanding of Aboriginal culture, art and conservation. I would definitely recommend any unihaller who wish to experience this next year!! It would be a trip to remember.

Here are also some accounts from Madeleine and Eric about their Aboriginal Cultural Project experience 🙂

HALLER MADELEINE PANG ON HER ABORIGINAL CULTURAL PROJECT EXPERIENCE:

Joining ACP has allowed the team to become more aware of Aboriginal culture. We were very honoured to have Wayne Warner and Charmaine Green from Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health (CUCRH) introducing Aboriginal culture, telling us their personal stories, and answering all our questions. At Bundiyarra, we also had Leonie Bodington and Kathy Councillor from the Irra Wangga Language Program to highlight challenges that Aboriginal people face, such as the struggle to preserve Indigenous language.

Yamaji Art Centre

Yamaji Arts Centre

One aspect of Aboriginal culture that the team found particularly intriguing was Aboriginal art. At the Yamatji Art Centre, we were exposed to many dot paintings, which had the same themes, such as community, nature and astronomy. Traditional Aboriginal colours consists of various paint colors with attached connotations (e.g. yellow: sun, brown: soil, red: desert sand, white: clouds and the sky), which we found to be very interesting.

To sum up, ACP was an enriching experience that allowed us to immerse ourselves in a different culture. There was a good balance between learning and fun (we had an Aboriginal movie night when we watched The Sapphires!), and I would highly recommend this project to anyone who would like their Winter break to be a meaningful one.

HALLER ERIC MA ON HIS ABORIGINAL CULTURAL PROJECT EXPERIENCE:

Going for the Aboriginal Cultural Project was a once in a lifetime experience for me. Interacting with the Aboriginals and learning from their stories brings a whole new perspective to the way I viewed cultural diversity. I learnt to appreciate upfront the richness and diversity of the Aborignal culture that I could never have experienced from UWA or staying in Perth. One of the highlights of the trip was our visit to the Geraldton Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (GRAMS), an all-in-one medical clinical that provides a range of specialities for Aboriginal health. Despite its relatively small size, the impact GRAMS has is enormous as they service the entire Midwest region. Reaching out to the community via buses and satellite clinics, GRAMS brings health services right to the doorstep of the community and improves accessibility to health care in the rural region.

Our final dinner as a group

Our final dinner as a group

A fascinating perspective shared by an Aboriginal elder at GRAMS is that sometimes, physical health is not viewed as a priority by the Aborignals. In the case of a diabetic patient for example, compared to leaving his home to the city for dialysis treatment, being close to his family and the land may be more important to him and his spiritual wellbeing. These values revolving around family, community, and the land are something I admire, coming from a Chinese background myself.

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Work Hard, Play Hard

Compared to college social events like annual balls and parties, I would highly recommend this cultural trip to anyone who wish to explore new cultures and perhaps even challenge your current values and beliefs that forms your identity.

WORK HARD AND PLAY HARD, That has got to be our motto for this Project. Check out our videos which summarises our trip here!!

A BIG THANK YOU to Annaleis and Dan for making this trip so organised and comfortable for us!!

Next year, there will be another University Hall Aboriginal Cultural Project, so hallers get KEEN and don’t forget to sign up for this once in a lifetime experience!! Hope you enjoyed this post, thanks for reading.

XX
Louisa Ong

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