Project member Hilde Sollid reflects on the Indigenous Citizenship and Education project meeting in Australia this autumn.
Five members of the Indigenous Citizenship and Education project from the Arctic University of Norway (UiT) traveled to Australia to meet with their partners from New Zealand and Australia. Their visit began in Canberra where the project members were invited to a roundtable discussion on Indigenous Citizenship and Education at the Australian National University (ANU) and some members, including Kristin Evju from UiT, presented at the Indigenous Studies HDR Conference hosted by the by the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Yarramundi Cultural Centre. The project team then traveled to ANU’s costal campus in Kioloa for writing workshops and paper presentations.
In this interview, Hilde Sollid, a project member from UiT, reflects on her first time traveling to Australia and her experiences from the transnational Indigenous Citizenship and Education project meeting.
What part of your trip was the most interesting and/or was most rewarding for you?
For me it was to continue the conversations with our colleagues from Australia and New Zealand.
Have you been to Australia before? Did you have any preconceptions of what Australia would be like or what this trip would be like? Were those perceptions challenged?
This was my first time in Australia, and it is difficult to talk about perceptions now. I had some expectations though. I expected an intense academic program and also to have a chance to get to know my colleagues better, see a little snapshot from Canberra, and perhaps feel the Australian spring and see iconic animals, like the kangaroo. I was also hoping to get a deeper understanding of similarities and differences that I sensed through reading research and news updates.
What were some of the main similarities and/or differences that you noticed in Australian education in general and/or in conversations specifically about the concepts of indigeneity and citizenship in Australia versus in Norway?
The main difference as I see it revolves around the complexities and number of Indigenous groups. Just from reading about the Australian setting it is hard to understand what this means in terms of citizenship and education. From talking with and listening I think I now understand more of this complexity. This has important consequences for the education system. Also, although both Norway and Australia have a colonial past, the differences in colonial history is very important.
Was there something that you learned while you were there or see differently now?
It hard to imagine what the long historical lines. I don’t understand what this means for the current situation in Australia, but I do understand that I need to learn more.
Is there a singular moment or experience that stuck out to you from your time there? A cultural experience, a meal, a conversation or even just a moment of personal reflection?
For me, it was powerful to have a cultural walk to one of a local aboriginal group at Kioloa, ANU’s beach campus. To see and feel old traces of social activities dating back 10 000 years was important for me. I also have to mention the many conversations that I had with different people about writing, which is inspiring me to write more.
What was your main takeaway from the experience as a whole?
Working in an international project is so inspiring and rewarding, both because of our great colleagues and the things we learn from our conversations.