Last week I traveled an hour and a half North of Brisbane to visit the Australia Zoo. The zoo is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Australia with nearly 700,000 visitors a year.
The zoo is most widely known because of one man. Ask your neighbor to name a famous person from Australia and you will most likely hear them say Steve Irwin. He is renowned the world over for being the man who wrestled large crocodiles, spoke with a thick Australian accent, had an intense passion for wildlife conversation and charmed people with his kind and quirky personality.
Going to the zoo was a great experience and it is still very evident just how much Steve's legacy and dreams are being lived out at the zoo and beyond. RIP STEVE
Christmas in Australia
I will actually be leaving Australia before Christmas day but just wanted to note how weird I feel in regards to Christmas only being 10 days away. Close your eyes (now open them again to finish reading this) and imagine yourself in sandals and a short sleeve shirt walking back to your condo in Florida after a long day at the beach. Next, imagine you've just opened the door (which had a wreathe on it) and sitting in your living room is a decorated Christmas tree. Would be kind of weird heh?
Anyway, it's not devastatingly hot at the moment (70-80 degree weather) but its definitely not in the least bit cold. The picture below may sum up what Santa does when he visits Australia during Christmas.
Well friends, my time in Australia has come to an end. It's 3:05 am as I write this blog and my flight leaves Brisbane for LA tomorrow morning. I am trying to stay up a little later to night so I can sleep a lot on the plane. Will see if the strategy works in my favor.
I am happy about going home but also sad to leave Australia. I've had so many great experiences and have made so many wonderful friends that I will remember forever. I know I will return eventually and when I do will definitely have to add to this blog and call it "Morgan in Australia part 2". I have enjoyed sharing some of my experiences with you and hope you have enjoyed reading this blog.
"Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different"- C.S.Lewis
WHERE ONE JOURNEY ENDS, ANOTHER BEGINS.
If your interested I will leave you with one question I answered for a Rotary Report...
How has your experience changed your outlook on your host country and sponsor country? How have you contributed to The Rotary Foundation’s vision to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace?
Before leaving for Australia I didn’t know much about Australia except the many stereotypical ideas in my head about Kangaroo’s and Koala’s, Steve Irwin, sayings such as G’day mate or Let’s put another shrimp on the Barbie, the Outback and Crocodile Dundee. While these ideas describe bits and pieces of the Australian identity they in no way define the people of Australia. The people and friendships that I have made in Australia have only strengthened my love and understanding for Australia. I have met many different people and these differences in the people have helped me to break down previous stereotypes that I had in my mind. These stereotypes were not bad; they were simply what I knew. While my sponsor country (USA) can be seen in various places due to the Westernization of Australia, it has been good to escape my environment in Mississippi and live in a place different from my upbringing. When people ask me how I would describe the differences in Australia and USA I simply say, “Everything is the same but different.” I then go on to explain, in great length, exactly what I mean.
Having an open mind to these differences is what has helped to make me more open minded towards people that are different than me. Differences are good but sometimes we can be quick to judge people because they are not like us. It takes a great deal of understanding about a person’s background to really understand a person and that is not something we can usually gather from a passing glance.
This experience has also made me more inclined to return home to explore and to better understand my own culture. Margaret Meed said, “When we sharpen our ability to observe another culture, we’ll also be able to apply that level of perception and appreciation to our own roots.” I look forward to exploring my own roots as I return to my cultural upbringing.
World understanding, goodwill and peace for all people are the very reasons that Paul Harris made this scholarship possible under the Rotary Foundation. It was believed by him that if nations and their people could only understand each other better that this would bring peace among them. Understanding is the key to peace and this starts with people and relationships.
I believe I have fulfilled my duties of promoting international understanding, goodwill and peace through my presentations given to Rotary clubs about my State, upbringing and culture. Just as I have been able to break down stereotypes about Australia, I hope that many people I have met this year would also able to break down stereotypes about Mississippi and its people. Telling stories and sending Ambassadors to other counties only helps to strengthen the balance between this understanding and peace among nations.
While there is not one moment that I can say changed my life, I believe this whole experience of serving in another country as contributed greatly to the personal responsibility and calling I feel towards helping others. The life changing moment for me occurred when I was 17 and traveled to my first third world country and saw the many different circumstances that so many people around the world live in. I have never been the same since then.
Thanks and God Bless,