Wednesday, August 24, 2011
When I was 15, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I got older. I didn’t have a burning desire to have a career or want an amazing job, university was out of the question; basically I knew that one day I would finish high school and go onto some sort of work, but besides that, I really had no clue on what my future would hold. As others around me started to get their future plans in order, I slipped through the cracks, chose all the wrong subjects at school and hoped for the best. It wasn’t until year 12, that by chance, a spark in my brain went off and the idea of becoming a radio announcer came to me.
After 8 months off work due to the death of my mother, settling back into the country lifestyle and taking on a fulltime parenting role with my brother this year, I am now working 3 days a week at my former high school in a ‘Youth Mentoring role’; helping kids (majority Indigenous kids) to get back on track and get them focused on their futures. Working in the education system is a complex one, and something that I am getting used to doing every week. From working by myself in a lonesome radio studio for years on end, to sitting beside my old Home Ec teacher in an admin block with busy office ladies and gents, is a world apart from what I’ve been used too in media for these past 7 years. Working with teenagers is not an easy task and I’m finding many of them are just like how I used to be when I was their age; oblivious to the fact that in just a few months/years, they will be out in the real world and have no real plan for their futures, yet aren’t fazed at all.
After 9 years away from High School, living in cities, working, studying and being independent, I know now that school doesn’t determine who you will become in the future. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important for the fundamentals and the basics of reading and writing, counting and social skills, but as a whole, that woodwork class, legal studies class subject or any subject that you HAVE To take because there are no others that might interest you, aren’t going to determine who you will become as a person in life in general. I know for damn sure half the subjects I took at school haven’t helped me in my everyday life and think the pressures we put on kids today for them to know exactly what they want to do or who they want to be after school is disgraceful.
My new job is to meet and chat with kids about their goals, desired job paths, home life and behaviours and more often than not, the replies I get from these teens are things like, ‘I dunno, yeah maybe, kinda, yeah i guess’... On top of the doubt they have on themselves, many of our Indigenous kids then have the added pressures to stay close to their families and aren’t always willing to venture too far away from they’re mob for work or University. Some families are supportive, but a lot of the time, mothers and family groups are reluctant in rural areas to send their kids away. Some of these children are the first members of their family to go to University so the pressures seem so big, more often than not, a lot of them will give up on the idea of further study before they even give it a chance.
Living in a rural area, it’s not easy for children to dream big; I know I didn’t when I was a teenager. My industry and desired career of radio was a world away and something I had to chase and create out of nothing myself to get where I am today. Living in the bush can have its benefits but employment is hard enough in metropolitan areas as it is, so imagine what these kids have to look forward to when they leave school living in a township of just a few thousand people. There are only a few options here work wise when you leave high school: Traineeship or trade; the basics of hairdressing, mechanic, carpenter, retail, agriculture; all of which are fine, but I want and NEED these kids to know that you CAN in fact dream big in such a small place, you CAN do what you REALLY want to do and don’t have to just settle for whatever’s going. I see my job role to be one of a dream maker and dream believer, because a lot of these children don’t have the encouragement from their friends or family and will get left behind if they aren’t presented with realistic options or job choices. Majority of the time, many are willing to go along with whatever comes their way, so my job is to steer them into a job that they will wake up every day loving and wanting to do and not just because it was the only job in the paper that they were capable of doing.
Radio has always been my main passion and the only job I have ever known, but my second choice of employment was to one day work with Indigenous Youth, and now at 26, I am fulfilling another one of my goals in life. Although I miss radio and all the perks that come with it, I am enjoying this new path that has been presented to me; having the opportunity to help shape someone’s future is a powerful thing, I see it as a privilege and just hope that my life experience and guidance will be able help at least one child along the way. One can only hope...
Until next time, DREAM BIG...
One love, One life XO