Guest Series #1: Naomi

As Flip Flop Fabian is expanding we introduce a new series of blog post by guests: Flip Flop Guest Series. I am very proud to announce our first guest Naomi from Wageningen University & Research!

Hi everyone! Fabian gave me the honour to write the first guest blog in the Flip Flop Guest Series. First, let me introduce myself. I am Naomi. I am twenty-two years old and studying International Development at the University of Wageningen. Doing my exchange in Sydney is a dream come true. So far I have seen the most beautiful places and met so many new people!

The main reason why I wanted to study in Australia and in Sydney is because with my bachelor’s degree I aim to specialize in indigenous people in order to acknowledge and protect indigenous people and their rights in my future career.

The first thing I noticed that was different compared to my lectures in Wageningen is that all the lectures start with an ‘Acknowledgement of Country.’ In this acknowledgement, professors acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional owners and ongoing custodians of the land—the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The traditional owners of the land, where the University of Sydney is built, were the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. To experience this, acknowledge of Country, in the beginning of the lectures was very unexpected for me since the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have experienced exclusion from Australian society for many years now and still experience exclusion.

In order to gain a deeper knowledge about Aboriginal culture I am taking the course: Aboriginal Community Engagement. In this course you participate in culture and social activities related to the local Aboriginal culture. This Wednesday the lecture consisted of a walking tour in the Blocks in the neighbourhood Redfern (see cover photo). The blocks stand for a block of housing in Redfern. The houses where purchased for a project in Aboriginal managed housing.

The guide for this walking tour was Uncle Jimmy, an Aboriginal active in the community. He told us that the surrounding of the blocks has been a meeting place for Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years. Redfern was the first place to establish Australia’s first legal and medical services ran by Aboriginal people itself in the 1970s. Besides this, Redfern has been the subject for activism and large protest for the eviction of Aboriginal people. This blog is too short to tell you all the information Uncle Jimmy told us. However, in the end of the tour in Redfern we passed by an engraving located in Redfern park. The engraving consists of an extract of the historic speech on 10 December 1992. In this speech, Prime Minister Paul Keating acknowledged for the first time that Europeans settlers are responsible for the misery going on in Aboriginal communities. Some lines on the engraving: “We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases, the alcohol. We committed the murders. We practiced discrimination and exclusion.” Despite this acknowledgment, discrimination and exclusion is still going on, and due gentrification in the blocks in Redfern, the aboriginal community faces the anxiety to lose their homes and to be pushed out of the community.

I think there is so much more to tell you about the courses I am taking, which relate to the Aboriginal history and culture. However, with this information, I hope to give you guys a different perspective on one of the neighbourhoods in Sydney. I hope you enjoyed reading my blog and maybe Fabian will let me write more blogs in the future!

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