the place that calls my heart

This blog is written by Marissa Showalter. It comes from her personal blog “Riss Lynn Takes Brisbane“. Marissa was a Spring 2017 student from Messiah College. Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been lightly edited. 

This past week has been a tough one. Every day that passes makes me wish more and more that I was on a plane headed back to the place that calls my heart. There are just too many in completes that I left behind in my sweet Brissy, and I want nothing more than to return to finish what I started under the sweet summer sunshine of Queensland. What do you do when your heart physically aches for somewhere else?

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A Gold Coast Beach

You would think that the more time passes, the more I would settle back into life here. WRONG. Yep. If anything, I feel even more listless than before. People here are talking about taking their GREs and applying to jobs, and I can’t help but feel like a frozen over creek, stagnant and unmoving.

I have been encountering so many well-meaning folks who, upon discovering that it’s my senior year, inquire as most do about what my plans are after college. I fake a smile and start going on about how I plan to go to grad school for counseling. HA. Who am I fooling?? Not that I don’t still feel like counseling is my calling or anything, but now I have bigger dreams and weirdly they look a lot like palm trees swaying on a spotless beaches and kangaroos bouncing across a stretch of barren desert.

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A mob of Kangaroos

People are usually rather incredulous when I tell them that I want to move to Australia. They think I’m joking or being dramatic or just exaggerating the impact that my time there had on me. “You would really want to live over there?” they ask me. “But it’s so far! Wouldn’t you miss your family?”

Then they ask me what I would plan to do when I got there and that’s just the kicker, because once again, I have no idea. Like, not a clue. I could go and work odd jobs for a little while, which no one would understand once I have earned my degree. I could do grad school abroad potentially, but of course I don’t know what that would mean financially as an international student or the implications for becoming a licensed counselor in the US. All I know is that I need to find my way back somehow.

So this has been an especially hard week emotionally as I move yet again into my new apartment. In the move, I packed up all of my Australia mementos and carefully tucked them away to be prominently displayed in my new home. I cling to even the smallest item that claims even a little bit of sentimentality. You know what? I still have the packaging for a necklace that I received over there that should’ve gone in the trash long ago. And yet I continue to cling.

If I come to a conclusion about all of this, I’ll keep you updated.

Until then.

xoxo, Riss

The Australia Panel

The legacy of the British Empire is felt across the globe. English-style city planning, a glorification of armed forces, and the English language itself can be found from the slopes of the Rocky Mountains to the arid plains of Australia. Both are prosperous westernized nations with a history of direct British colonial rule. To many it may seem that the two are nearly the same.

Enter the Australia Panel.

 

 

 

 

 

Three members of the Wesley Institute staff who have been hand selected to represent Australian culture to the ASC students, each with a unique area of expertise and background. Prompted by questions pulled from students’ readings the three weighed in on important aspects of Australia’s cultural myths, convict history, engagement with Aboriginal Australians, and modern issues in Australian culture.

Beginning with the quirks of Australian language, Jo Kenny, coordinator and lecturer for the drama department, describes, “Irreverence is very Australian, but we do it with a sense of humor, so we have a charm about it.”

Mark Stevens, lecturer for the theology department, adds, “I identify with that sense of humor, I think it keeps you grounded in a way that doesn’t bring you down.”

The three encourage the American students that, “if your host families or Australian friends seem to be cutting you down, that’s a sign of acceptance.”

Julie Matthews, head of the department of education, brings in an historical perspective     explaining the connection between the convict beginnings and modern Australian society.   Ideas like the “tall poppy syndrome,” distrust and irreverence for authority, fatalism, and   mateship, she says, come from a legacy of people who were thrown into a fierce land against   their will.

“That ‘mateship’ that Australians became known for is something to be proud of,” says Julie. She mentions the storming of Gallipoli by Australian and New Zealand troops, an important moment in the formation of Australia during the First World War.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At one point Jo begins reading from a book called 800 Horsemen, an account of a gallant moment in Australian history abroad. It tells the story of the 4th and 12th Australian Light Horse units that successfully performed an incredibly risky charge upon well-entrenched Turkish artillery. The American students were surprised to see her so overcome with emotion for a moment that happened even before her parents were born. Such is the deep feeling of mateship between Australians.

Mark explains further, “No one would ever say, ‘I’ll die for you’ but when the situation gets really tough there’s no question, we would die for each other.”

Questions also prompted a look at some of the challenges Australia faces today. Struggling with a younger generation taking to binge drinking and a viciously post-Christian society is no simple feat. But Mark brought it home, “I don’t just weep for my culture but for the world,” as he explained the challenges here reflect those of the globe.

“Australians are best when they live for others,” he says, “I suspect that’s true of human beings.”

Listening to the students debrief the panel it became apparent that learning about another nation provides the ability to think critically about one’s own.