Yiramalay School is located between the Great Northern Highway and the Gibb River Rd. Driving in past the quarry flanked by giant boulders and boab trees it certainly felt like I was in a very special place. Sarah & I spent 2 days at the school located 400km east of Broome. Each year students from Wesley College in Melbourne do an exchange programme with local Indigenous students. It's a great way to introduce city life to Indigenous students and for Melbourne students to get a taste of what life 'on country' is really like. The remoteness, the simplicity and beauty of nature miles away from the bustling city life they know.
Storytelling is an authentic way to connect with students. I begin my talk by telling the students about the time my dog Charlie was injured in an unprovoked attack and how emotions can sometimes lead to unfavourable choices. Emotional regulation and normalising stress in life is the theme of this story. Why? Because often in times of stress, frustration, anger, confusion and fear we have all made choices that we have perhaps regretted. That is the human experience. Hindsight is a wonderful gift to learn and grow from the consequences of our choices. I ask students to tell me their choices in each scenario of Charlie being involved in an unprovoked attack. Each possible choice from that scenario show how our emotions can sometimes lead to choices with unfavourable outcomes.
My student in this photo chose to photograph the local spring while being in the water. She told me 'don't worry miss, I will be careful with the camera'. I love watching the students immerse themselves in the moment, being fully present to take their mind off their problems and enjoy taking photos. I was so proud of her! It was definitely a great choice for her to take a risk, try something new and have fun along the way.
Choosing to move from your comfort zone is something I have always embraced. How do you grow otherwise? I am fortunate to have a job that allowed me travel, work and base myself in beautiful Broome to start the project. It hasn't been easy away from the comforts of family, friends, Charlie and city life especially during challenging times. I have chosen to leave Broome because my dream is to develop and expand the creative side of the project inspired by the students' photo stories. Steve McCurry is my favourite portrait photographer and is famous for his National Geographic assignments. He now runs Imagine Asia which you can read about here https://www.imagine-asia.net/a... . This has certainly inspired me to take the project in this direction.
I have met many people that inspire me every day, the ones that live extraordinary lives both on and off the field. Nevile Poelina is a wonderful Indigenous man who truly inspires me with his passion to each others about his culture including bush medicines and his diverse roles that have taken him around the world. My colleagues, two wonderful doctors who volunteer to travel around the Kimberley running courses for remote health staff in the Kimberley for 3 weeks every year in their own time. The parents who have reached out to me who have lost their children to suicide. Those who work tirelessly to help the most vulnerable, our elderly and those who are homeless. I was fortunate to also cross paths with an incredible human, a surgeon who summits mountains to support children who have experienced trauma and hardship and who risks it all to achieve this and his own personal goals. I am also humbled every day by the students who share their stories with me.
As I finished my last ever night shift in Broome this morning, I came home exhausted but also grateful for the amazing opportunities working in a small hospital has gifted me. I look forward to revisiting the Kimberley on the next school roadtrip in 2021! Life is too short for regret. Accept the choices you've made and move forward knowing that your past does not define you. I've made plenty of choices that didn't serve me well but I choose to live a conscious life doing what I love, helping others and having fun rather than focus on past decisions. This week it will be my last time this year to drive up the Dampier Peninsula to visit Christ the King School. Choosing to follow your inner voice rather than fear will create opportunities you could never have ever imagined!