Excerpt from Cara Schow’s personal blog ‘Authentic Living’. Cara is a Fall 2016 ASC student from William Jessup University. Reproduced with permission.
The past two weeks have made it clear to me that I was born to be an Aussie. I think the stork made a mistake when he dropped me off in the states. Okay, probably not, because let’s be honest, I also am very much in love with California. But, Australia is amazing and I’m in love. Last weekend, I explored South Bank with some lovely friends, got to experience a noodle festival that was going on there, and got to see some amazing and beautiful sights. The city of Brisbane at night is breathtaking. I also got to attend a BBQ with my host family with some of their family friends last weekend which I thoroughly enjoyed. The family friends had a two year old daughter, so I was instantly at ease. Children can instantly take away any sadness or discomfort or awkwardness for me…they just make my heart so happy and light.
Fun fact, Australia doesn’t have a tipping system like in the States…and waitresses and waiters make good money here. I also learned all sorts of other great things but I can’t tell because I was told what happened and what was discussed in that house, stayed in that house. 😉 But I can tell you that they are fun and great people.
Tuesday evening, I went with a group of other ASC Study Abroad students to Mark’s house for dessert night. Mark is the Student Services Coordinator at Christian Heritage College and works with the ASC study abroad program. He’s also pretty bomb-diggity. His last name is also Jessop which is pretty much basically the same name as my college back in the States (William Jessup University, woot, woot, represent!) so, that makes him ten times cooler. Anyways, I digress. Dessert night was lots of fun. I had a bit of trouble with catching the public transportation bus to his house….meaning I missed it. The buses are the only complaint I have about Australia…and that’s just because I haven’t quite mastered them yet, although I’m getting better.
Wednesday evening, I went to my service placement (I have to do so many hours of community service while I attend this college) which is located in South Bank. I and two other American study abroad students, Kyle and Paige, are working with an organization called Micah Projects, which works with the homeless and marginalized within Australia. They have housing for people who were once homeless and struggling and every Wednesday evening, I will be helping serve a meal to tenants in the housing and spending time visiting with them. This week was my first time and I was rather nervous at first, but I ended up having a lovely time. This week was low-key because the chef was sick and so we just served pizza. I got to meet a lady by the name of Kate, who is in the fashion industry and currently attending college for fashion design. I also met this lovely lady named Meg who has been with this housing project since it was built, four years ago. She told me about this beautiful place on the coast that I need to visit while I’m in Australia and was just as sweet as could be. I also got to briefly meet a man named Ahmed, who was adorable and reminded me of Tom Hanks in the movie The Terminal. I am very much looking forward to returning to serve these people and get to know them.
I think oftentimes, especially in the States, it can be easy to dehumanize homeless people. But the fact is, they are just people, like you and me, who have fallen on hard times, whether it be by some bad choices or just a bad hand in life. They are people, human beings, with stories and lives and hopes and dreams, people who need to be loved yet are often pushed aside and forgotten, ignored, or treated like problems that need to be dealt with. Wednesday night, spending time with those people, talking with them and eating with them, I was reminded of the importance to fight back against the stigma and attitude that is given towards the poor and homeless. People deserve to be given love and respect, regardless of their situation in life…I think Jesus made that perfectly clear.
As one more fun fact before I end this blog post, Australians pronounce my name as Car-a, rather than Care-a. I’ve learned to accept it and given up trying to correct them, for the most part…because if they aren’t saying Car-a, they say Kierra or some other name that is not, in fact, my name. So, I just roll with it. However, I did have someone say, when I corrected them, “Oh, it’s Car-a but with an American accent” which I thought was pretty funny.