On leaving Bubup Wilam
Teaching and learning at Bubup Wilam 2009 – 2015
I was going to sit down and write this before I did anything else, but I went into the garden instead.
For me, gardening is a kind of meditation. I recall Jeannie’s words – ‘Just let your mind go wherever it wants to, don’t fight it’.
Now I am ready. I have pulled out some weeds, raked over some dirt, and planted in some herbs.
In 2009 I started working at Bubup Wilam when it was a one room kindergarten in Nebel Street, Lalor.
I had left teaching ten years before and didn’t expect to go back to it.
I had loved being a teacher and I missed the day-to-day emotional and intellectual buzz that I got from being with babies to six year old children.
I jumped at the chance, just as I was turning 64, to return to it.
Our Place – Bubup Wilam, Nebel Street, Lalor. 2010
When I started teaching at Bubup Wilam, I believed my educational philosophy and way of teaching would fit well with Bubup Wilam’s vision and aims.
Now I know how much I still had to learn about teaching, about people, and about being a non-Aboriginal person working in an Aboriginal community.
What challenged me the most was the realisation that I still had a lot to learn about myself.
It was a steep learning curve, often uncomfortable, sometimes distressing.
Every day we were confronted with the effects of on-going generational trauma suffered by Aboriginal people as a result of colonisation, dispossession of land and culture, and the forced removal of children from families – the Stolen Generations.
Our Place = Bubup Wilam, Main Street, Thomastown, 2010
… all of you, my colleagues who have become my friends, and from whom I have learned so much.
Here I want to single out a few, and what I say to them, applies to you all
Trish, Dianne, Jedda, Lisa – the strong Gunditjamara, Gunnai/Kurnai, Mutthi Mutthi, Yorta Yorta women – that I met when I first started at Bubup Wilam in 2009, at Nebel Street
You welcomed me into the Bubup Wilam family.
You have been my teachers.
You have openly and honestly shared your life stories with me.
You have helped me begin building my own understanding of what it means to be Aboriginal, and living in Australia today, with a sidelined 60,000 year heritage and culture.
And to realise what it means to me to be non-Aboriginal in the same country.
You have been my role models, and helped me to broaden my own understanding of true social justice.
You have introduced me to Aboriginal ways of thinking and living, and to Aboriginal English, and to your unique style of humour.
You are rebuilding the parts of your lives that have been broken through the effects of historical events.
You are healing yourselves, studying, reconnecting with long-lost family, and raising and creating a new generation of proud and deadly kids, with strong connections to Community, Country and Culture.
We are growing and learning together.
By chance I turned up at Bubup Wilam 5 years ago.
I am leaving the building.
I can forget the entry code and how to lock up.
I can kiss goodbye to rosters.
I look forward to walking with you as far as I can.
gets into your bones
and lives on in your HEART and soul
All images © Bubup Wilam for Early Learning Inc.