Friday, 25 May 2012

Lions Make You Brave.



Whilst I still have the time before next weeks’ Mid-Degree Assessment Week at University, I thought I would update my recently barren blog. I always thought I would not be consistent with updating a 'blog' but I realise that it's something that's there you can use as a form of 'release'.

It's been a hectic couple of months really; drawing on both ups and downs. Blessings have been given to me as the ratio of 'ups' to 'downs' is vastly high. There have been many opportunities, obstacles and events that have sped me through time, making the year feel like it's just begun, even though we are quickly approaching June.

The daily routine of university!
University has kept me on my toes however, as I am approaching the halfway mark of my three year degree in Community & Social Development. It is seriously going too fast. I feel as if I were at the beginning of my degree, stumbling in late after being misdirected to the Bankstown Campus worried about the beginning of my 'new life'. I have visions in my head of being the fresh 18 year old returning back to NSW after a long yet well-deserved summer holiday with my friends, clearly in no state of mind for anything else bar relaxation - on the same day of my first day of University. It feels like yesterday.

Fast forward 18 months and here I am in my 2nd year, with a whole year out of school in my back pocket and a multitude of experiences and responsibilities that increased my maturity. With these intact, I have had a pivotal breakthrough in my teenage life... All for the better, of course. 

University assessments and commitments have definitely required me to challenge myself and my personal opinions, which is what an outcome of going to university is about - forming your own opinion. I have never struggled with this - but being confronted to racist opinions against my culture and my beliefs is something I had absolutely zero experience with, which resulted from my University's well doing.

I do not want this post to be of one that holds belligerence and animosity, but I do feel like this certain 'event' has been playing a significant part on any doubt in confidence I may have had.

My university had accepted my application to be a part of their Indigenous Cadetship Program in which I had won my interview in being a Cadet at a psychology institute where there was an Indigenous Course aimed for Indigenous hopefuls in obtaining a qualification in Process Oriented Psychology ran by a woman who was also my Employer.

I had grown a liking to her and had the utmost respect for her and her qualifications in Psychology, as I would consider myself as an aspiring psychologist. My role was initially the Indigenous Coordinator but it was in a short amount of time before I was promoted to Coordinator (for all of the company).

I thought life was at its best. I had students at this workplace that adored me and those which I had prominent contact with became good friends; university was going well smooth and my position as President of the Indigenous Student Collective had become embedded with the 'high hats' of the University.

It was three months into my Cadetship to where I first was exposed to direct racism. I was organising files on the work laptop, teaching my boss of a system I had implemented to increase efficiency of the administration of the company when she said,

"Oh! You are very smart for an Aboriginal person. I am surprised."

An instant flush of shock filled me quickly as I did not to respond to what she might have thought was a compliment. It was at that moment I starting to keep a sharp ear out for any other occurrences of racism that may arise, to which it did.

Before my being in the position as the coordinator there was another young Aboriginal man who had the role. My previous boss had no hesitations to constantly put him and his previous efforts down and then disclosed a rather personal drug then prison problem this man had endured whilst in the position. My boss at the time had paid to attend an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Conference (held by Criterion) and had not used due to his 'problems' so she expressed that I must go or my job may be at risk.

I was more than happy to attend as it was my conference that I had ever attended. I actually had been welcomed warmly from the other participants which were mostly CEO's of both Indigenous and Non-Indigenous companies. I actively asked questions and provided methods and theories to increase youth involvement with their community and things of the like. During this time of new discovery, my boss had not yet turned up and was not reachable to even find out where she was.

My ex-boss had turned up whilst there was the Elders Address which provided insight from an Aboriginal elder from the Eora Nation. She was on the phone with her friend planning her partners 50th. In the middle of a well prepared presentation she was the only in the person in the room paying respectful attention. I had quietly told her to please pay attention as the address was extremely important, especially to her employee who is Aboriginal. My efforts fell flat and I began to lose confidence in my boss and her apparent 'mission' to better the lives of Indigenous people. Though I had lost confidence in my boss at the time, I never lost respect for her or lost my dedication to my job and my students - who constantly needed the deserving support.

The worst came in exact form of what it was... the worst.

I had arranged with my lecturers to leave my class early so I could travel to my workplace as it was an important day. I had got there and immediately was into the many roles I took as the Coordinator. I had been informed from my University, who had organised my placement had informed me to get my boss to sign certain documents as she had neglected to do prior to that day. I requested my University's wishes, which were procedure and my boss told me to simply leave her alone as she does not have time for this. Even in our 10 minute debriefing meeting before work she had told me not to bring it up. 

I cared more for my commitment to university so I rang them and told them of what her reply was. The university insisted that I must get these documents signed if I wanted to receive payment and to maintain my position at that workplace as a cadet. This was delivered to me in a much understandable, positive yet serious way I must include.

I asked her again with the confidence that she did care about my being there and appreciated I took time out of my own that day to work for her. Students had started to turn up at this moment which set the scene I regret. My boss looked at me in the eye and yelled:

"Shut your fucking mouth or your career here is over!"

I was startled and very offended instantly, as were the students who heard. I thought this is not acceptable and told her I was leaving to go back to where I should have been that whole time - which was university. She instantly started shouting of being useless. My students were upset and pleaded that we sort things out as they wanted me to be there for assistance and support. I was weak yet warm at heart when I had accepted to do so.

We went into her small office space where she shut the door upon entered and locked it. I was automatically curious. Her incredibly infamous dialogue followed:

"You are absolutely disgusting! How dare you intentionally break my class apart by having them leave with you? You should know that you're fucking career is over and I will make sure of that. You have done nothing but cause me distress today and I have had enough."

It was then I decided to leave as this was not going anywhere until she blocked the door with her body, provoking any form of 'physical violence' she was hoping to endure from me. Naturally I knew better than that. I stood there pleading to let me leave as I no longer want to be in that space. She would not move, so I resorted to screaming at her as I was desperate in leaving. The students on the other side could hear everything and were awfully consumed with concern for my wellbeing, with good reason.

I stood there with my personal space and freedom abused and violated, all from a woman I had high regard for. I felt myself breaking with no power whilst still being abused for all sorts of inaccurate reasons. I started to do the very thing I promised myself not to resort to... cry. I felt akin to my people in the way they were treated by British invaders (far less of course) and I could no longer handle the abuse. I stood there, a 7 foot, 19 year old man crying; my confidence and power stolen.

I think I should no longer continue writing about my previous employment as it is a bit too negative for my friends who are reading this to witness. Before continuing you should take a break... Have a cuppa, even a shower or a toilet break as I will be moving on to the present where life is much different.



Jessica Mauboy
Stan Walker
Johnny Ruffo
On a more recreational side of things, I attended an On.Earz launch event of their earphones, which were designed by singing sensation Stan Walker. It was pleasant because at the event I got to spend time with secret friend Jessica Mauboy to where we had a good time dancing off in front of my friends who were absolutely star struck. X-Factor 2011 runner up, Johnny Ruffo had introduced himself to me and said he noticed me from another event to which I was there with Jessica.

Stan Walker had also known me since January when he and Jessica went on their ‘Galaxy Tour’ together. I met him in my hometown of Penrith where he could not believe I was 19 and the height I was. I had a great night, but my friends who I got to bring along had their lives changes – partying up with the celebrities of Australia. I got some great pictures with all involved. It was an event that I would never forget. The last thing I said coyly to Jessica before leaving was ‘Round 2 at The Deadly’s love!’

The UWS Indigenous Student Collective Logo
The UWS Indigenous Student Collective, which is the student body group I am president of, had blossomed quickly since its launch in late February. Members have been increasing weekly and were are hopefully going to continue to expand our involvement with the internal community of UWS (University of Western Sydney) and the communities that the five different campuses are a part of. (Penrith, Bankstown, Parramatta, Hawkesbury and Campbelltown). We are finally going to conduct our first official meeting where the anticipated voting of ‘Campus Leaders’ will be selected.

Members at Launch Event
Indigenous Students at UWS take pride and excitement their participation in the National Indigenous Tertiary Education Student Games which is held every year which consists of a week of sports, culture and friendship development.  Last year I had the on the team where we had travelled to Melbourne and to which I made a significant number of mates that I still heavily am in contact with today. We also performed the best UWS has had done so in a whole decade!

This year, the demand to participate has increased significantly and therefore we are seeking to take a team of 14 members this year. Nothing but difficultly we have endured as the funding in our education department cannot fund a full team to participate this year, which has required the UWS Indigenous Student Collective to take action and seek out sponsorship. We had assistance from a friend on Twitter in the construction of this letter and hope we receive some funding and also a gesture from a mate about a potential sponsorship. I will keep my blog updated with our endeavour.


As of yesterday I had received a phone call from a lady from UNICEF to inform me that I have been appointed to being an Australian Youth Ambassador. I was absolutely shocked and excited at the same time, as I had not expected in gaining this opportunity. This is another part of my life that is just beginning and I anticipate every moment of this journey with UNICEF.

The opportunity would not have even existed if it was not for the strong referral from my mate who had seemed to really set a great impression with them about me. I was also pleased to hear that my referral of another mate of mine also was selected! Congratulations Shaarn!

I take a long stare at my life, hoping to do my best in whatever I do and to make sure I am happy whilst I breathe. I will strive for every opportunity that may come my way and to those that I seek out. I have the most loyal, solicitous family and friends which continue to give me unconditional love which stabilises my mind, body, heart and soul. I will try to thank them every day in any way I can.

The extensive support I have received from my Twitter followers has been ENORMOUS! It’s an amazing feeling to log onto a community accessed by millions, to have a family that you can talk to about absolutely anything and have a laugh or moan about current events and affairs.

This post has definitely been random in the sense that there is no clear direction but I want to leave you all with what I have learnt, in metaphoric form which has been supplied by my favourite artist, LIGHTS. It has also become one of my favourite quotes and I have been using frequently as of late. Here it is:



Lions make you brave,
Giants give you faith,
Death is a charade.
You don’t have to feel safe to feel unafraid. 


Thankyou,
Blayke
Blayke Tatafu Web Developer

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