Australians Really Come Together In A Crisis
BLOG: A Family Studies AbroadBy Cynthia Banks, Founder and Executive Director, GlobaLinks Learning Abroad
This year is a special year for my family. With 20 years in Colorado under my belt, and my kids approaching high school, my husband and I decided to move our family to Australia to “study abroad.” Our children ages 12 and 10 are attending local schools in Queensland, and my husband and I are working remotely. Having traveled most of my career with GlobaLinks Learning Abroad, you would think that any cultural challenges would be mitigated by my (tongue in cheek) vast educational understanding of the world at large. In reality, there are some amazing challenges in taking children overseas and even testing my own comfort zone in my 40s. Even so, I am blessed and willing to share this wonderful experience through this blog. I hope you will send me your experiences as well!
March 2011: Weathering the storm
Our arrival into Australia on Jan. 8 was preceded by one of the worst floods in Queensland’s history. Our arrival airport was shut off and we landed via a ferry boat up the coast. It felt like we were among the few who actually wanted to GO to our destination vs. most wanting to just get OUT. It was easy to make conversation so long as you kept up on the news of the flood, the towns affected and could listen with an empathetic ear. Shocking to see how much water flowed down a continent.
Every 100 years
Two weeks into our new home and we were facing Queensland’s largest cyclone (hurricane) in 100 years. If we hadn’t felt the worry of the people around us, a quick visit to the local grocery store confirmed that food was scarce. Our family was not certain if we were going to have to seriously adjust our food likes/dislikes to live here, as we were not even sure what was available! It was a few weeks of the staples like bread and milk missing at our table.
National pride lasts longer than the news story
We realize that the news of Queensland’s flood made national news, and we thank all of our friends who wrote to find out if we were swimming or sailing in our new home. However, the floods have not receded as fast as the news, and there is still water around so much of this country. It is the small business and the small town that always faces the worst, and in this case, it is no different. Outback Queensland towns like Emerald will take years to recover, and I meet people in the stores who recently moved from their towns, as there was not much left to stay for. Donation jars are at every checkout counter, and our local paper boasts another fundraiser every week.
Australians do one thing very well – they really come together in a crisis. There is a feeling here about Australian national pride, and I am proud to see it in action. You just sense that these people are “mates” at a different level. It is a bond under their national colors of green and gold, and it is an undercurrent across all walks of life.
Does America feel that kind of pride across our vast country, and do we really know that we are therefore “mates” of the red, white and blue? Can a country as big as America ever bond like Australia? Does that weaken or threaten our national pride? What are our common cultural connections, even with such variances in language and backgrounds in our very own neighborhoods?
I do think we have similar national bonding in America and an “all for one” type attitude with each other like we displayed with Hurricane Katrina. I hope, however, to keep learning and exploring this concept while I am living abroad this year. I would be interested to know what others think…