Dear Friends and Parents,
Our Dee Why and Manly Beach day is in the books. Our first stop was a side trail around a brackish lagoon where we looked for native birds. This generation does not seem to know the kookaburra sits in an old gum tree song. As such, our search for the prized bird lack some luster. Next, we hiked up the beach to a promontory with sprawling ocean views. A hang glider coasted above the cliff face less than a hundred feet away. It was like watching an Imax film in real time.
After lunch a seaside restaurant, we headed south to Manly. This is a busier beach with volleyball matches and a bustling walkway. At around 4:30pm, jetlag kicked in and we called it a day. For Ella’s birthday today, they are heading back to Manly to celebrate. One of the taverns has ping pong on the weekends with the bar cleared and matches going on throughout the evening. You can play for fun until 6pm and then it’s money ball. We have some in the group who are anxious to test their skills against the locals.
With the ocean behind us, we had our first formal chat about expectations for the internships. Specifically, I told them that of all resumes that come across my desk, the ones with international internships jump out of the pile. To be able to complete a project overseas shows employers and schools that this is a person who can adapt, overcome challenges, and succeed. I explained that they have an opportunity to get three letters of recommendation. One from the internship host in Sydney; one from the host in Auckland; and the third and most detailed being from me. I will weigh their work effort, how they interact with the group, and if they keep their housing clean when writing letters.
Yesterday was my favorite day of the program. I joined the students and took them one-on-one or in pairs and met their internship hosts. Sam and I drove up to Macquarie University and got a tour of the fish lab where he will be working. The “wow” factor was definitely there with shark tanks and behavioral experiments of all kinds. As an anthropologist, my favorite was the one that took a clutch of eggs from a single female and spread them between three different tanks. One had just a sandy bottom and no objects for relief. The second had a complex and cluttered array of shells and seaweed. The third tank had a mixture of both. Researchers are testing how different environments effect fish behavior with the same genes. As we approached the tank with the sandy bottom, the fish rushed toward us and showed great interest. When we moved to the tank with a cluttered environment, the fish showed little interest in our presence.
Austin, Thomas and I took the bus downtown to Marketing Eye to meet the staff and see the office. It’s a big city marketing firm with a glorious view of a city park. A small dog came to meet us at the door for “Casual Friday.” Jacinda discussed the job duties and told them they would have a high level of responsibility if they could show they were ready. On Monday they will sit in on a client meeting and learn how Marketing Eye pitches their services and then will get to working on marketing and design. More than job duties, the crew seemed to discuss the best places to go out on weekends and to have lunch. It was a friendly introduction and both Thomas and Austin are excited to start.
I met Isabelle and my assistant Dulcie over at Alt Media Newspaper. Together we sat down with the owner and negotiated job duties. We are looking at a mix of writing, archiving, and visiting various neighborhoods to market the paper. The owner is a colorful character who was one of the main players in setting up City Pages in American cities back in the early 90s.
My last sortie was taking Anna and Elliot to Paw Republic to meet the owner. It’s a fabulous location right next to all the hip restaurants. They will assist with grooming, walking the dogs, helping them play safe in the dog park and checking in new clients. Big smiles and happy campers at Paw Republic. I suggested they spend thirty minutes a night reading dog psychology and use their knowledge to make sense of the pack.
Dulcie took the rest of the crew to their workplaces: Koori Radio Station and Disability Services Australia. Big thumbs up for both locations and all seemed eager to get started.
This morning I took Anna over to Sotto on West Café where she will apprentice with the chef. We had a great breakfast together and watched the organized chaos of a neighborhood restaurant. Customer reviews make this a favorite spot with the locals.
This afternoon I will meet with Oren on his photography / videography internship. He will key locations around Sydney as well as group activities to build his portfolio.
We decided to move our Blue Mountain and Royal Park trips to next weekend to allow us to focus on getting the apartments ready, cook groups set up, and general odds and ends so they can go into work fresh. There is also a hot spell through today and tomorrow so not ideal for huffing it through the bush.
Thanks again for your role in helping this group come together. I will remind them throughout the program what a tremendous gift you have given them and the gratitude we all have for your efforts.
If you have friends or family members who would like to join these updates, or if I missed anyone, please send their email info and I will add them to our list.