Tuesday, March 11, 2014

You Have the Right to Remain Fabulous

February 28 – March 2, 2014

By Seraphie Allen

I cannot believe we are more than halfway through our whole program already! It feels like just yesterday that I was in Sydney, getting ready to write the first post for this year’s blog. Brisbane has been a nice change from our fast-pace and full schedule in Sydney. While I miss the easy access to things people our age tend to do, I am living with an awesome host family in Brisbane!

Jane and Kristiana are a young couple who live in a leafy suburb in a lovely Queenslander style house. They enjoy walking, gardening, and good food and music. Kristiana works in financial literacy education and Jane is an electrician who runs her own business. Their house is adorable and is in prime location for me to get to school. My room is spacious and full of light, because of all the windows. I've learned so much more about Australia and its contemporary culture from my host-moms than from any lecture we've had yet. Jane makes my lunch everyday, which I've tried to tell her she doesn't need to do, but she insists on being a good host. I've felt incredibly welcomed and feel honored to be a part of their family.  

Our school schedule in Brisbane is the same as in Sydney. We have lectures Monday-Friday in the mornings and sometimes have excursions during the afternoons. On Friday we had lectures on Australia's relationship to the world and Australia at war. In the afternoon we took a field trip to the Toowong Cemetery, where our lecturer did a show- and-tell of the gravestones, monuments, and the different sections of the cemetery. He explained the history of the monuments and pointed out the common war monument commemorating the ANZACs, as well as the Temple of Peace, which was erected in protest of war.  
Temple of Peace at Toowong Cemetery

Inscription on the Temple of Peace

As you can see from the pictures, there is a hard glass casing around the protest monument, because some people have vandalized the site since the recent upsurge of patriotism in Australia. This monument was especially controversial in its time, because it went against the standard convention of idealizing war and the deaths of the soldiers.  

Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to fly back to Sydney to attend the Mardi Gras parade! Oh, not only did I attend the parade, but I marched in it! For those of you who do not know, the Mardi Gras in Sydney is like San Francisco’s Pride! When I arrived in Sydney on Saturday afternoon, I could already feel the buzz of excitement on Oxford Street. Queer-looking people were everywhere! All the shops were adorned in rainbow colors and many of them had “Happy Mardi Gras” displayed on their windows. The ATMs… well, just take a look: 
Sydney Mardi Gras

And look at the receipt I got from the ATM! 
Sydney Mardi Gras

I marched with Dayenu, an organization established to meet the needs of Jewish gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, trans and intersex people, as well as their friends, families, partners and other supporters. They provide outreach through education, information, resources, social activities and other events.

We met a couple hours before the parade began in order to get all sparkled up and to rehearse our dance to a remix of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You!” I could go into much more detail, but I will spare you and just give three highlights:
1.     Making awesome friends (my favorite were the three older ladies I got drinks with).
2.     Walking around before the parade and seeing all the awesome floats!
3.     Getting the biggest rush marching past thousands of people who were screaming and out there to support us!

New Friend from Mardi Gras
You Have the Right to Remain Fabulous

Friends from Dayenu

Happy Mardi Gras!

On Sunday morning I slept in, worked on my paper, ate Moroccan food with my friends, watched Tangled, and went to bed. Monday morning I flew back to Brisbane at 6am and was in class at 9am—ta-da!

The End!


PS: Australia is awesome!

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