There is valuable knowledge in reading and in books, but my time as an Aurora intern with Barengi Gadjin Land Council (BGLC) has taught me that certain things can’t be learned at university.
At the start of the final year of my undergraduate degree at the University of New South Wales, I decided that I needed practical experience in the field I was passionate in. I became very interested in Indigenous affairs through my courses at university, and I thought it would be important for me to gain experience beyond the books. I had been made aware of the Aurora Internship Program through one of my lecturers, Amanda Kearney, and through her support I decided to apply as an intern.
When I had been accepted into the Program, I was beyond ecstatic. I had assumed work at the BGLC would be straight forward, and foolishly, everything I had read in a book or heard at a lecture. The downside to a purely university education is that practical experience is not at the forefront. In order to truly gain an insight to the field of Anthropology, interaction and connection with people is a must. I found that challenge and growth as an Aurora Intern. The reality of the situation was that despite my education, I hadn’t learnt a key aspect of communicating and relating to others; listening. Many of the people I worked with at the BGLC taught me valuable and important aspects of Indigenous knowledge, and history – many of which isn’t necessarily taught through formal educational institutions.
As an intern with BGLC, my primary role was to research the local history, focusing predominantly on the Aboriginal Cricketers of the 1868 tour to England. This involved looking through newspapers, as well as reading scholarly articles pertaining to the cricketers. This posed a challenge to me in various ways since I live in New South Wales and reside in Sydney - very different to Horsham, a town in rural Victoria. The geography of the region was foreign to me, as well as the local history, and the general nature of colonial expansion in the area. This was an insightful research project for me as I learnt many things that added to my knowledge of Indigenous affairs.
On a few occasions, I went on archaeology trips. This allowed me to see the beautiful country in this region. It was truly a magnificent experience for me. I learnt about scarred trees and even saw a few. Abby Cooper, a local archaeologist, and a former Aurora Intern, let me tag along on her archaeology surveys. I learnt a lot from her in terms of cultural artefacts, and I also gained insight to cultural practices in the region.
There are many people to thank for imparting their wisdom to me during my internship. The entire staff at BGLC were most welcoming and willing to help me whenever I had questions. In particular, Ron Marks, a Wotjobaluk Elder, who was friendly, enlightening and a patient and kind teacher to me.
I am absolutely grateful for this internship experience through the Aurora Internship Program. Through this Program, I have gained valuable knowledge and skills that will help to guide me once I commence my Honours year at university. Without this internship, I would have not been able to feel more confident about my future career as an Anthropologist.
The Aurora Internship Program offers internships in both the winter and the summer university breaks for between 4-6 weeks, with some flexibility for graduates. If you would like to learn more about the Program, check out their website: http://www.auroraproject.com.au/aurorainternshipprogram. Applications for the summer 2016/17 round of internships are now open through 26 August and applications for the winter 2017 round will be open in March 2017.