Sushi, Service, Fireworks and Frustrations

Excerpt from Spring 2013 student Fiona Tranquillo’s blog “My Aussieland Adventure”. Reproduced with permission http://myaussielandadventure.blogspot.com.au/

My first week of classes had a very delicious ending… sushi!!! As I mentioned earlier, my host mom is from Singapore, so many of the dinners we have are oriental. On Friday, she told Tarah and me that she was going to teach us how to make sushi! I had mixed feelings. First let me say, I do NOT do raw fish… ew. Just thinking about it gives me the heeby jeebies (I think I just made up that spelling). I was QUITE relieved to see that everything she had for us to use was fully cooked. It was the sweetest thing… Bee-Hoon got everything totally prepped and set up a little sushi rolling station for each of us. She had prepared cucumber, carrots, crab, omelette strips, chicken, and radish. I put everything in every roll and it was SO delicious. Also, good news, I wrote down all of Bee-Hoon’s tricks for the sushi so that I can repeat it at home! This was not easy, however. Bee-Hoon, being quite the thrifty one, told us that taking her recipe AND her being in our blogs was going to require a contract and some major cash. Good news, though, we were able to pull it out of her, free of charge. 😉

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Fiona and her host mom

I think I may have become a sushaholic.

The best part about the night, however, wasn’t just eating the sushi. More than that, I felt like I really connected with my host family and started to feel “at home” for the first time. I was able to joke with them, laugh with them, and just be myself. I went to bed feeling very thankful.

Saturday started off bright and EARLY. Part of the ASC program is that all participants are required to put in 35 hours of service in a placement of their choosing. I, along with about 7 other ASC students, was placed on the Hillsong Street Team. This is a group of people from Hillsong Church and Hillsong College that go out every Saturday morning to different harder areas of town, knock on doors, and simply build relationships and help in any way they can. If often consists of yard work, but other times is just being good company for people who are often lacking in that area.

It was a really neat experience. Most of my group’s time was spent talking with this older woman named Shirley. We didn’t clean her house, preach the Gospel, or bring radical change… we simply sat and enjoyed chatting with her and listening to whatever she had to say. This was a bit of a challenge for me. So many Americans are engrained with the belief that service means doing. I left feeling like I hadn’t actually DONE anything to help. The more I’ve thought about it, however, the more I am finding value in the simple act of being there for Shirley and building a relationship with her… showing her that we care. I think that being on this team will challenge my view of service and teach me that spreading God’s love and light doesn’t necessarily mean serving a meal or handing out Bibles.

Saturday had a pretty slam-bang finish. I’m not sure what the occasion was or how often it happens, but we had heard that there was going to be fireworks that night. To sum it up… it was magical. Darling Harbor is one of my favourite spots so far, and seeing it lit up with fireworks was incredible. The icing on the cake was some really good conversations with a couple of girls in the group… some serious bonding, which I’m a huge fan of.

There were many wonderful highlights of the weekend, but there was also a lot of frustration. I’ve found myself being frustrated that Australian wifi stinks and that we’re never allowed to use it. I’ve found myself being frustrated with how stinkin’ expensive everything is. I’ve found myself being frustrated with how long public transportation takes. Most of all, I’ve found myself being frustrated with myself for being so darn frustrated all the time! I was expecting everything to be easy and happy-go-lucky, but it hasn’t really been that way a lot of the time. It is in these moments, though, where the Lord is teaching me so much. First of all, the things that are frustrating me are so trivial, and I need to open my eyes to the world around me and to the needs of others. Like seriously… being frustrated about wifi?? Let’s be real, Fiona. Second, when things really are hard… that’s okay! I have been clinging to the words of Psalm 34 that tell us that, as Christians, things are not going to be easy. Our hope is not in a promise of all happy-go-lucky circumstances, but rather, our hope is in a God who will be with us and FOR us no matter what the circumstances are! It is because of that hope that we can “bless the Lord at all times” and “have His praise continually on our lips.”

Praising Him in the good and the hard,

Fiona

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Orientation in the City

Turning over a new leaf, the ASC decided that trying orientation in the city would be a nice approach to welcoming the new batch of ASC students.

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So excited to see the new students!

At first it took some time for the students to learn how to get around.

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There were rivers to cross.

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And mountains to climb.

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After some lunch and a walk around they were ready to go.

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The Hope Collective: Making a Difference through Music

Originally posted on Wesley Institute’s website: http://www.wi.edu.au/news/hope-collective

Written by: 

“As musicians living in suburban Australia with a young family, we are thankful for the relatively easy life we have. But for us, that’s not enough. We want to make a difference in this world.”

– Lauren Moxey, 2006 Bachelor of Music Alumnus

Tim and Lauren Moxey studied the Bachelor of Music at Wesley Institute. Lauren graduated from the program in 2006, while Tim completed further studies and finished his degree in 2008 at the University of Central Queensland. The married couple still reflects very fondly on their time at Wesley Institute, says Lauren, not the least reason being it is the place where they met! Now, six years on from their studies, Tim and Lauren have embarked on a new creative pursuit with global implications.

Tim and Lauren are founders of The Hope Collective: Making a Difference through Music. The organisation raises awareness and funds for projects around the world that restore life, health, justice, hope and dignity. “Our model is simple”, say Lauren. “We create professional CDs of beautiful music, and $10 from every CD goes directly to charity. The other half will be used to fund future projects. Each album is created for a specific organisation or project.”

The first album, Stargazing, has recently been released through The Hope Collective. Tim provides lead vocals, accompanied by Australian music legend, Mark Isaacs, on piano. All 15 songs on the album are ‘old favourites’, including “Bridge over Troubled Water”, “My Favourite Things”, “Another Day in Paradise”, “Both Sides Now” and more.

Stargazing will directly support the work of TEAR Australia and its partner, United Mission to Nepal (UMN). Specifically, funds raised go to UMN Cluster Program: Maternal & Child Health. This program is addressing horrific child and maternal mortality rates in remote Nepali villages by providing prenatal care and 24-hour birthing centres, as well as antenatal care for the mothers.

“Music is beautiful and inspiring and enjoyable. We want to use it to make a difference with our lives, and we want to be at least a very small part of addressing social injustice”, say Lauren. “Out of this desire, The Hope Collective was born. It’s our way of using our gifts to bring positive change where it is needed most.”

For further information on The Hope Collective and to purchase Stargazing, visit www.thehopecollective.com.au. CDs cost $20 (plus postage).HopeCollective

On behalf of Wesley Institute, we heartily congratulate Tim and Lauren for what they’ve accomplished through The Hope Collective! At Wesley Institute, we seek to benefit our community as we equip people for Christian life and leadership in a range of influential vocations, and are so encouraged to see our alumni using their gifts and skills to positively impact communities around Australia and the world.

*Artwork for ‘The Hope Collective’ by Kim Hall, Wesley Institute Bachelor of Graphic Design Alumnus

Wesley Institute Alumni Theatre Company Performs at the Seymour Centre

Originally posted on Wesley Institute’s website: http://www.wi.edu.au/news/twisted-tree-theatre-seymour-centre

Wesley Institute’s alumni theatre company, Twisted Tree Theatre, will be presenting The Way of All Fish at the high-profile performing arts space, the Seymour Centre, from 30 October – 1 November.

Twisted Tree Theatre began in 2007 with the purpose of providing Wesley Institute alumni a platform for their theatrical endeavours. In an industry where artists are often confronted with obstacles, Twisted Tree Theatre supports alumni by offering a range of opportunities to develop skills in performing, production, marketing, budgeting and theatre administration, with the aim of producing professional and public work. Alumni are welcome to approach the company at any time with their creative ideas and scripts.

In The Way of All Fish, a one-act play by renowned playwright Elaine May, nothing is as it seems. Having been described as the The Devil Wears Prada meets The Office, this uniquely executed production presents an hilarious and revealing exploration of powerThe Way of All Fish in the modern-day workplace.

The Way of All Fish will be produced, directed, stage-managed and performed entirely by alumni of Wesley Institute’s Bachelor of Dramatic Art. Hailey McQueen (2002 graduate) and Sarah Farmer (2003 graduate) have taken on the play’s lead roles, and Neridah Morris (2006 graduate) will serve as Stage Manager. Naomi Stewart (2002 graduate) is making her debut with Twisted Tree Theatre as director.

Since graduating from Wesley Institute, Naomi completed a Teaching degree and went on to teach Drama and Dance at the HSC level. She also studied extensively in London with exclusive schools, including LABAN Contemporary Dance and Movement Academy and The Circus School. Her talent is in combining physical theatre and comic realism.

“In The Way of All Fish, we are creating something physical, something very funny and something through which audience members will see elements of themselves,” said Naomi.

Wesley Institute congratulates Twisted Tree Theatre on its success, and is proud of the commitment of our alumni to use their skills and areas of expertise for the benefit of their communities.

To book tickets to The Way of All Fish, please click here. For further information on Twisted Tree Theatre, visit their Facebook page.

Heavy as a History Book

by Aubrey Simmons

The lyrical artists Dry the River drones in one of their songs, “As heavy as the history books can be, come carry them with me.”  As I thought about a person that would be the epitome of an Australian born and raised citizen this song kept making me ponder, who is it that really knows what it means to hold the heaviness of the history book in their hands?  After coming to the young nation of Australia I became aware that the Australian history book is comparatively thin and sparse, however, it is still ink blotted with hardship and is heavy with grief.  As I began to get to know the homeless population in Sydney, I was bombarded day by day with the depth of hurt and isolation that they feel on an hourly basis.  They are on the outside, on the fringes, looking in.  The homeless are the people who tell the story of what it means to be affected and dejected as a result of various events in their history.  The homeless are the epitome of the Australian battler, which characterizes this country.

 

A wise fortune cookie once instructed me with the Chinese proverb, “We see what is behind our eyes”.  Before getting to know those people who sink into the landscape of the city, I had been seeing what was behind my own eyes.  I thought I knew what they were like and why they had ended up begging and isolated to the streets. Perception is a funny thing.  I have realized that most of the time my perceptions are truly tinted, tainted, and terribly mistaken!  I was not actually seeing the people who I walked past everyday on the streets in Sydney.  Homeless people do not have one face, nor is it their lack of address that defines them.

 

I cannot even begin to recall all of the stories that I was privileged to hear, but one man in particular changed my views of homelessness completely.  He said, “I am in an ebb and flow, one day I may be on the streets and the next someone might be by my side helping me to aspire to something better.  I’m just always trying to pay it forward.  Today you may be helping me, but tomorrow I might be in the position of helping you.”  Hospitality was being shown to me by the homeless in that one statement.  He was inviting me to see what it means to have true fellowship and community.  Another man said, “I am a very lonely man.  My heart is so filled with love that it hurts like hell and there is nobody to give it to – or to be more precise, I come across so very few people who will receive it…but sometimes another bloke tries to help you and you know that’s what mates are for.”

 

I realized that there is no pretense on the streets in Australia.  They treat each other with true comradery. On the streets is where true mateship occurs.  Coming into homeless ministries I felt naïve and the only thing that I knew for certainty was— that I did not understand any of them at all.  As my Mary-Janes became smoldered by the city streets, however, one thing I know now is that the face of the homeless cannot be pinned down, just as their address cannot be placed in distinctly one location.  The homeless are the true Australian battlers who have seen all there is to see in the Australian life.  It is not about coming to the homeless to try figure them out and to dissect them, but to hear about everything their history book contains, with all its pains and burdens, and to help them carry their memories and their fears.

Adultery at the Cross

by Sabrina Johnson

Kings Cross, or ‘The Cross’, as many call it today, has been know as being the “Amsterdam of the South Pacific” (Herald Sun, 2010) right here in a suburb of Sydney. If you’re anything like me, hearing the news that prostitution is legal was flooring. Each state in Oz has their own restrictive laws that control the prostitution industry, however the running of a registered brothel is legal throughout the whole of Australia. The catch here is that registered brothels are legal. Currently, there is a widespread issue of illegal brothels that are not only unregistered, but also using trafficked women and children as their employees. For Sydney, in 2010, there were 90 suspected illegal brothels being operated, and there is no doubt that this number has increased as the demand has increased.

Due to this uprising in illegal prostitution activities, many Australian’s today are questioning the decision of making prostitution legal in their country. All over the news you can see a rage behind the prostitution laws that Australia has implemented and how those laws have created more harm then good. The Daily Telegraph said, “legal brothels are out of control in western Sydney’s sex industry” (The Telegraph, 2012) and a West Australia article discussed the pressure that government is facing to vote down the prostitution bill.

The aspect of this current topic of debate that has been increasingly appalling to me is the fact that these laws are making a way for human trafficking to become an easier illegal activity. “High growth has forced pimps to forge international supply routes to source their ‘product’, which, in the case of the sex industry, is mostly women and children” (Sydney Morning Herald, 2011). Due to the high demand of sexual partners, pimps are beginning to see a profit in kidnapping or shipping females from other countries in order to sneak around fair pay wages and appropriate worker conditions.

Something noteworthy is that fact that there can be some pros when it comes to legalizing something as dangerous, yet popular, as prostitution. The registered, legal, brothels in Australia are run as businesses, thus, must report to the government and pay taxes. According to a recent report from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), “Ten brothels, the subject of a recent ATO project in the Sydney area, resulted in additional revenue of $480,000 [to the government]” (Gallagher, B). This is an incredible amount of money that is promoting the growth of the Australian economy. In addition, prostitution laws allow the government to better control and protect those working within the walls of registered brothels keeping the women safer and healthier.

Even with the positive aspects of the prostitution laws, I’m still not convinced. With Australia being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, do they really need the taxation revenue, especially at the cost of their nations moral and ethical standards? Even though the laws that claim to be protecting the women working within this industry, what about the majority that are not working in registered, legal brothels? If Australia began to form laws against prostitution, it would leave less room for illegal activity, allow for harsher punishments, and convict and decrease those involved in trafficking. So what do you think is more important: upholding a high ethical standard or creating a wealthier, more dangerous society?

 

 

Sources:

 

Gallagher, B. (n.d.) Taxation And The Sex Industry. [online] Available at: http://www.aic.gov.au/en/publications/previous%20series/proceedings/1-27/~/media/publications/proceedings/14/gallagher.pdf [Accessed: 4 Sep 2012].

Herald Sun (2010) Sydney The Brothel Capital of The South Pacific. [online] Available at: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/sydney-the-brothel-capital-of-the-south-pacific/story-e6frf7l6-1225952320313 [Accessed: 4 Sep 2012].

The Sydney Morning Herald (2011) Sex Trafficking In Australia. [online] Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/its-time-to-get-serious-about-sex-trafficking-in-australia-20111012-1lkzi.html [Accessed: 4 Sep 2012].

The Telegraph (2012) A Fight to Turn off the Red Lights in Rydalmere. [online] Available at: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/a-fight-to-turn-off-the-red-lights-in-rydalmere/story-e6freuy9-1225952354505 [Accessed: 4 Sep 2012].

The Western Australian (2012) Boost For Prostitution Reform Laws. [online] Available at: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/13678448/boost-for-prostitution-reform-laws/ [Accessed: 4 Sep 2012].

Australian Obesity Rates

by Meagan Morrow

 

It was said in a study done by Monash University, 17 million Australians are overweight or obese, 4 million being obese.  That is a very large percentage of the 22 million alone in Australia, over 75% being overweight.  It has even taken over as the leading cause of premature death and illness in Australia.

 

In response to this epidemic, some have suggested that there be a “fat tax” on fast food and junk food.  This was presented after Demark imposed a similar tax. (Sacks) This is supposed to encourage people to lose weight. From the understanding of the economists, price incentives have an effect on society. (Irvine) In another blog on News Network, is was stated “Instead of getting off their fat bottoms and taking control of their own lives, they want the government to take care of it.” It makes them feel better about themselves, if they don’t have to be responsible for their own lack of will power. If the government continues to take control over every bit of the lives of its citizens, what will be left in the end? It’s sad how lazy people have gotten. Giving up freedoms little by little will give too much control to the government.

 

Another question arose in discussion with an Australian couple, where will the money from the tax go? If it goes into the health care system to help aid those that struggle with diabetes and other health issues that are brought about by obesity that would be extremely beneficial. But if it just goes into the general funds and is not used properly, what is the point? Making people take responsibility for their actions and indirectly pay for their own health care could be useful and encouraging to the economy. On the other hand, trying to force people to change their habits is not in the job description of the government.

 

Just because it costs more money doesn’t mean that people will stop. The cost and convenience of fast food would very possibly still outweigh that of healthy foods. (Irvine)  But many people think the fat tax is a great idea. Marianne Betts stated that 70% of Australians surveyed about the “fat tax” “support an increase in junk food prices and a decrease in healthy food prices, according to a survey by the Obesity Policy Coalition.” (Betts)

 

The article, noted above, in the Herald Sun stated that this tax would be combined with “subsidies on healthy foods, such as fruit and vegetables.” This would increase the likelihood that people would buy healthier foods because of the cost, but the usefulness of pre-made or pre-prepared food is still there.

 

Health does not just directly relate to food either. “Half of Australian parents are  concerned about their kids not getting enough exercise. “ (Betts) It might take more than just a tax on junk food to bring about change. Education about healthy foods, including where and how to get them for good pricing, and how to cook them in a manner which is less of a burden is important to any society that struggles with health issues. (Irvine) Australia is not the only country or culture struggling with this. It is a world wide issue and many different approaches have been taken. Australia’s attempt to follow in Demark’s footsteps could be a chance to begin the fight against obesity, but it will not end there.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Betts, Marianne . (2012). Aussies support tax on junk food.. Available: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/aussies-support-fat-tax/story-fn7x8me2-1226358271940. Last accessed 27th Aug 2012.

 

Irvine, Jessica. (2012). Would a Fat Tax Curb Obesity?. Available: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drive/would-a-fat-tax-curb-obesity3f/4144548. Last accessed 27th Aug 2012.

 

Kenny, Chris. (2012). My great big fat tax. Available: http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/goodlyfabric/index.php/theaustralian/comments/my_great_big_fat_tax/. Last accessed 27th Aug 2012.

 

Sacks, Gary. (2011). Is a ‘fat tax’ the answer to Australia’s obesity crisis?. Available: http://theconversation.edu.au/is-a-fat-tax-the-answer-to-australias-obesity-crisis-3712. Last accessed 27th Aug 2012.

 

Unknown. (2012). Obesity in Australia. Available: http://www.modi.monash.edu.au/obesity-facts-figures/obesity-in-australia/. Last accessed 22nd Aug 2012.