This week marked the end of my January Intercession course. The University of New South Wales is unique in the fact they require their exchange students to participate in two terms, which for me was the January intercession term and their full semester Term One. They do this to help alleviate the stress placed on exchange students by allowing them to spread out their coursework and have more time to explore Australia. The course I was enrolled in during the January term was called “Indigenous Australia.” In this course I learned about the rich culture and history of the Aboriginal people who lived in Australia long before Britain claimed Australia as their penal colony. As we learned about the treatment of Aboriginal Australians during colonization, many similarities between the colonization of the United States and Australia became apparent. In both countries the Indigenous people on the land face mistreatment, suffered from the spread of diseases, and were stripped of their lands. In both of our countries’ histories, the cruel treatment towards the native people is a dark stain in our past. However, in Australia the inequality towards Aboriginal citizens is still present and Aboriginal communities continue to protest to be given back their rightful lands. The Aboriginal community has a strong voice and continues to fight back against the injustices that have plagued their people since colonization.
I am very grateful for taking this class in the January term because the completion of this class was vital in my comprehension of the significance of Australia Day. Australia day occurs on January 26th every year and is a festive occasion celebrating the first arrival of the British fleet in Australia. On this day, citizens proudly demonstrate immense patriotism towards their country. However, for the Aboriginal community, Australia Day is a day of mourning. Australia Day marks the beginning of the invasion and the cruel injustice that is soon to follow. Many Aboriginal people are calling for Australia Day celebrations to be moved to another day, claiming “invasion day is nothing to celebrate.” A few cities in Australia have indeed postponed or canceled Australia Day celebrations out of respect for the Aboriginal communities. If it were not for the Indigenous Australia class, I would not have recognized the underlying political tension laced into the Australia Day holiday.
During Australia Day, armed with the knowledge that this was both a solemn and happy day for the Australian population, I went to downtown Sydney to partake in the activities. At the Sydney Opera house there was a huge concert filled with all-star Australian performers and in the Sydney Harbor there was a 1.5-hour fireworks and water light show.
I had a joyous time viewing the fireworks, listening to the popular Australian music, and celebrating with thousands of people. While there I noted the event organizers placed a large effort to be more inclusive of the Aboriginal community. During the performances at the concert there were Aboriginal artists, hanging from the Sydney Harbor Bridge was both Australian flag and the Aboriginal flag, and even the fireworks had a mixture of the Aboriginal colors.
If it were not for the Indigenous Australia class, I would have been ignorant to the significance of the inclusion of the Aboriginal community during the holiday. Overall, I had a spectacular time and I am very fortunate to have been in downtown Sydney to celebrate one of the biggest holidays in all of Australia.
Student, UConn School of Business
Hello UConn! My name is Victoria Myers and I am a junior accounting major with a minor in economics. In my free time, I play on UConn’s club field hockey team, volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and I am also a member of the UConn Consulting Group. A fun fact about myself is that I was born on Halloween; however, ironically, I am terrified of horror movies and the scary aspects of Halloween. View Posts