HIGH SCHOOL TRIP TO NORTH WEST ISLAND, THE GREAT BARRIER REEF – NOVEMBER 2019

Snorkel at the drop off and we drift over undersea gardens like a patchwork of villages. Everywhere there is relationship, community; Old Man Stingray is buried in the sand in a canyon of coral alive with parrots, angels, electric blues, butterflies and zebras; and these are just the ones I can attach a name to.  I float through a “bait ball”, checking my thinking. What is bait to a predator is also a constellation of silver slivers, an undersea meteor of sparkling life. A turtle eases by, drift power personified. April says the feeling here is, “I’m ALIVE!” I know what she means, it’s a surge of life and wonder – if we could harness this power the coal could stay in the ground and we’d all live more vibrantly and more in the relationships with those around us.

Dave weaves into wholeness something snapped, it would be easy to discard it. Cade washes avocado pips for a set of juggling balls, a milo tin becomes our fresh water shower…so simple and yet the ingenuity of what we can do once we shift the lens; create replaces consume, what is discarded becomes resource. We can choose not to be slaves to time and convenience, we can tap into turtle-powered drift, become villagers again.  We have travelled to the moon, split the atom but have we even begun to feel and treasure the beauty and life in a stroll along a beach before breakfast?

This High School trip is part of a Geography study on Climate Change. These young people are ripe for a “change in climate”, one where we align our actions with our values, where trust is about having each other’s’ backs, where we can think not just like a human being but like a reef, an island, a planet. We are asking brave questions; how will we go into the apocalypse of our time (apocalypse in the sense of unveiling)? What are the pathways? Driving through western NSW we were shocked by the dried-up river beds and the bare paddocks, by towns over artesian water on water restrictions. Further east there were the out of control fires.  From these experiences, when we talk about crisis and catastrophe, we realise we are not talking about some time in the future. The experience of drought and fires fuel our rage. The beauty and diversity on the island with its stories of cooperation and resilience fuel our hope. They strengthen us in our capacity to meet what lies before us with informed thinking, connected hearts and actions that align with these.  The world around us is classroom and text, abundant in lessons for the learning.

Lynn

High School Coordinator and Geography Teacher