There is a reason having a gap year isn’t considered unusual or too disruptive for youth in Australia. It’s because the outcomes involve knowledge and life experience.
Travelling offers experiences you can rarely find anywhere else. It’s often said that 70 per cent of learning is through experience (20 per cent through exposure and 10 per cent formal training). Travel is that 70 per cent.
But it’s not about lining up for rides at Disneyland or shopping up a storm at Harrods. It’s about embracing a culture.
Australia is considered a melting pot of culture. Since colonisation we have had a host of European, Asian and African nationalities migrate and call Down Under home alongside Indigenous Australians.
It’s events like the Tamar Valley Peace Festival that showcase how those gap years can be had every year (or every day) by every single one of us. This week Circus Oz held a special performance at the Princess Theatre. One of the performers sang a beautiful song with a powerful meaning.
The song suggested Australians embrace diversity, equality, forward-thinking and the like – but not in “my backyard”.
A lovely verse linked to both a monk and Aldous Huxley says:
“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.
“Now, as an old man, I realise the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realise that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”
A diverse culture is here in Northern Tasmania – it may have existed or arrived here 400 years ago, 40 years ago or four months ago. Regardless, we have so much to learn from each other, we just need to explore our own backyard.