Here are some reflections on the trip:
Simply put, I cannot articulate how transformative and extraordinary the Santa Teresa Immersion Experience was. Our pilgrimage didn’t really start on October 2nd when we left for Melbourne, but started back at school with the pre-immersion activities and meetings. I learnt about what I might see or hear, what to expect, but I could never really be fully prepared for what I was to see and feel during our time away.
I was overwhelmed at the hospitality and kindness shown by each and every person that we came across. Walking through town as a car rolled past you would see several hands waving whilst you waved back. To us and our “western view” it seemed that they lived without – technology like social media and TV, but in fact they lived such a richer life. Their faith was admirable and the love of their families was heart-warming.
But the most touching part of the journey for me was the sense of belonging I felt and self-discovery. Only identifying as Aboriginal a few years ago I was so worried about what people might think. I was worried that other people wouldn’t accept me as Aboriginal, simply because I didn’t look like I was, but after this experience I feel so lucky to be a part of such an amazing historic culture. I feel so proud to say that I am an Aboriginal Australian.
The whole journey is tough actually. It conflicts with things you thought were true; what if the things we think are valuable are actually worthless? Essentially, most things we think are important really aren’t. Facebook and social media are not worth the trouble. Gossiping and rumours are unconstructive and whilst time is important, we should live in each moment and stopping looking to the next thing we have to do, just stop and think about what you are doing at that moment. There is a lesson in everything.
During the pilgrimage I discovered things about myself, like my passion for human rights, particularly Aboriginal rights. I also believe that I discovered what spirituality means for me. I can now understand what people see when they see God in nature because Central Australia is truly breathtaking.
I see each day now to a day closer to returning, but also each day as an opportunity to live what I’ve learned.
-Jessica Bennett. Year 11
It is difficult for me to put my experience during this week into words. Thinking about it makes me extremely emotional. Santa Teresa has touched me in a way that has made my personal spirituality grow, further my understanding of Aboriginal culture and spirituality, whilst also coming to understand myself more clearly. I felt so welcomed in this community; a slight smile or a simple wave from one of the locals filled me with great appreciation. Talking to the people and developing my knowledge of Aboriginal people leads me to my frustration that Indigenous Australians are so often stereotyped and inaccurately perceived. This awareness now calls on me to make change in my future and in developing an understanding of Aboriginal people in my own surroundings.
I am incredibly grateful and privileged that I have had the opportunity to stand on sacred ground and witness Aboriginal culture first hand. Although this trip was not what I first expected, it was so much more. Following a smoking ceremony by Mia-a traditional healer, I was overwhelmed with the impact of her actions and how real it was for me. I have been lifted spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.
Standing on top of the sacred hills around Santa Teresa made me feel as if I was the only person on this Earth, and this put my place in this world into perspective. I feel changed, as I have lived simply and without a single worry. Simply being off my phone for a week and not worrying about how I looked reminded me that those things in life don’t really matter. Santa Teresa has shown me what does matter. It was so comforting to be living in the moment and just having some space from my life at home. Now being home, and back into my normal life, I am constantly being challenged. I have struggled to accept this modern life that we live, and how I am wishing so greatly for a simple one. I have become so passionate about my new learnings and knowledge and will no doubt continue to be challenged to share the truth of my experience. I have also gained seven new sisters that I will cherish for life. Santa Teresa will forever be a part of me.
-Sally Corrigan. Year 11
Also Some great snaps from October’s Santa Teresa trip and a full gallery Here.