“We Only Part to Meet Again”

Every day of my Watson journey I meet people for the first time. Initially I don’t know anything about them. I don’t know their names. I don’t know where they come from or where they want to go. I don’t know their dreams, wishes, or desires. I don’t know their stories.

But as time progresses and I get to know more and more about someone, it becomes hard to imagine not having the pleasure and the privilege of knowing them.

It’s interesting how one moment can change everything. One moment can make someone who previously was a complete stranger become someone familiar and someone who you will never forget.  This past week was full of these moments for me. As I look back on my past two and a half months in Sydney, Australia I realize that I have been able to form incredible relationships and bonds.

For some of these relationships, bonds grew fast and ended quickly as I had to say my first hello and my final goodbye in the same day.

In just one day this past week, I became a part of a family.

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I learned about Lebanese culture with an exciting day of conversations, meals, and adventures. I had brunch at a Lebanese restaurant, “Arabic” ice cream for a snack, kebabs for dinner, sweets to bring along for my journey, and high tea at the Queen Victoria Building.

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My favorite memories of this day were the moments where I had the opportunity to get to know Rana and her children on a deeper level. As we played mouse trap and as we drove around the city we talked about life, love, school, culture, law, child protection, family violence, the media, our own struggles, and our own life experiences.

I was struck by Rana’s genuinely warm and kind spirit, generosity, sense of humor, and compassion. I cannot thank her enough for letting me shadow her in Children’s Court and for having me be a part of her family with a day filled with new experiences. As I said goodbye to her that day I was confident that our paths will someday cross again.

The very next day I had to say goodbye to my home stay family. I would never have imagined walking through their door two months ago that this mother and son would become a part of my family.

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Adrienn is now like a little brother to me as we spent time together joking around, playing, and talking. I will never forget how we would tackle each other, play, and call each other funny names.

I cannot express how appreciative and thankful I am that Angie welcomed me into her home, family, and life. Angie has been like another mother and like a best friend to me as we both helped each other through difficult times. She took care of me when I was sick, helped mend my broken heart, and helped give me the confidence and support that I needed when I was feeling lonely or vulnerable. We have had so many incredible moments together and I know that we were both placed in each other’s lives for a reason.

Next I said goodbye to my “Campbelltown mum”s from the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service.

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These women were the first people I met in relation to my fellowship project and they always welcomed me with open arms. I appreciate their warmth, openness, support, compassion, and genuine desire to make a difference in the lives of women and families who have experienced violence and abuse. I had an unforgettable time getting to know them, their services, their clients, and how they approach helping domestic violence victims and families.

I also had the privilege to get to know many of their clients at an aboriginal women domestic violence support group where I learned about the connection between domestic violence and child protection. These survivors of domestic violence have shown me their strength, determination, and perseverance as they shared incredible stories of how they have overcome their experiences of abuse.

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I feel so blessed to have been a part of their group and honored to have received a beautiful painting that we all made together. I painted the basic shape of Australia in the middle of the canvass and then each woman added her own design. The final result is beautiful.

After saying goodbye to my court advocate family, I then started a new relationship with the government child protection agency in Blacktown during my last two days in Sydney. This child protection agency welcomed me like I was one of their own workers.

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I was enthusiastically included in all aspects of their work and I was even able to give back by sharing my knowledge of domestic violence and experiences in their local Children’s Court. I went to case debriefing meetings, group meetings, unannounced child protection home visits, interviews with children, and placement assessments.

I will always remember how passionate and caring these caseworkers were. It was amazing to see how hard they worked doing all that they could to make a difference every day in the lives of children in need. Rather than becoming numb to the horrific situations that they encountered on a daily basis, they approached each case with passion, emotion, and an intensity that was inspirational. Even though I only spent a few days with them, it was difficult to say goodbye.

As my crazy week of goodbyes came to an end, I prepared to leave Sydney and say goodbye to the first people I met here, Jim and Meg. They have been an incredible source of support throughout my journey in Sydney, Australia. They were the first people to welcome me to Sydney, they showed me around, and supported me as I found contacts and secured my home stay. I cannot thank them enough for everything that they did for me. Ever since the very first day that I met them as I drowsily entered their beautiful home in northern Sydney, they have shown me unwavering compassion, generosity, and support.
It’s strange to think that almost three months ago, I did not know any of these amazing people.

Everyone who I have met in Sydney started as a stranger, but with time that changed. Now days, weeks, and months later I am saying goodbye. I am now leaving Sydney with new relationships, friends, family, and mentors.

Somewhere in the long walks, romantic dates, incredible moments looking at the stars or watching fireworks, random day trips, court hearings, dispute resolution conferences, morning tea breaks, conversations in the car, child protection home visits, train rides, window shopping adventures, trips to the zoo, and conversations, each individual person I have met became a part of my journey and my life in Sydney.

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Because of these people, I have become a stronger version of myself and I feel more prepared to continue this journey and learn even more about myself, the world, and my project.  Next stop: Dubbo Australia, then Melbourne Australia, and then London! 🙂

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