As I brace for my last year of high school and the truly uncharted future that awaits after that, I’ve taken some time to reflect on what 2018 has brought!
In 2018 I stepped up to senior high school, and I have had a chance to grow my leadership skills. Through leading school events, especially in social justice, and directing the fantastic year 11 play, I have learnt that astounding things are achievable with organisation and teamwork. As I moved into year 12 in the last term of 2018, I was very excited to begin my role as the SRC Captain, and I’m looking forward to further growing my leadership skills and helping achieve great things in 2019.
Throughout the latest year, I noticed that I have honed my passion for something I broadly call “living right”. To me, this means not just eating well and doing my yoga and meditations (as vital as they are :)) but also being environmentally sustainable. Growing up is fascinating in the way you see very particular passions develop in the people around you; I can’t tell you why my sister adores researching food and baking and alternatively I love planes and the environment. I love how the passions of my friends have had an influence on me and likewise its so exciting when I notice my passions influence them.
A very funny and slightly concerning phenomena that I have noticed this year at school is that often when I walk into a room of people that I know well, some will try to hide or apologise for the plastic they are holding with comments like “Sorry Eve I forgot my KeepCup today” (including my sister who wrote a story about it)! That might be because I am very vocal about social and environmental justice at school. This year I helped out as a Social Justice Ambassador doing many exciting things like even introducing a school compost bin (btw I highly recommend getting one in your home – they lower waste and are great for gardens)!
I was honored to be the winner of the 2018 Justice Literary Writing Competition by Edmund Rice Centre for Justice & Community Education with my video BYO Cutlery.
My favourite poem that I wrote this year was an environmentally inclined piece about my incredible immersion to an Australian First Nations Community in Western Australia. It won The Christopher Brennan Senior Award for Poetry at my school!
Shattered, Melted, Reshaped by Eve Cogan
Our bodies soft, heavy, malleable;
Clay-like from the exhausting excitement
that keep us glowing through our nocturnal journey
East to west over the vast, undulating yet slumbering continent.
So now we sit, draped over each other in the back of the sunburnt truck.
The flattened world spreads out from beneath us,
affectionately adorned with jewels of life;
Spinifex backlit by sun, flaming golden,
arrays of termite hills built grain by grain from ruddy sand,
Exquisitely fragile species ephemerally everlasting.
Our breath softly slow, our eyelids deeply droop
in time with the entrancing bounce of the wheels over the rusted earth.
As word spreads that our destination is near
sticky eyes peel open.
Hushed murmurs of expectations leave unknowing lips
to fall on deaf ears,
inside each of our minds
expectancies sit a perfect and untouchable ceramic sphere of obliviousness,
Waiting to be shattered,
The first foot-fall from the truck to the earth
and our spheres begin to crack.
Chips fall from our minds in little showers
to rattle around at the bottom of our hearts.
A community of cultures, customs and kinships
deeper, more sacred and ancient
than anything we could have ever known.
But beneath my foot lies red earth,
resilient tufts of grass
and plastic of very kind.
The horizon is bejewelled with the silhouettes of metal monsters:
defeated cars and washing machines, sacrificed to the elements.
My sphere cracks and breaks and falls
in clattering pieces.
The dust begins to settle…
and I begin to see.
This beloved land that has owned its people,
Its people’s ancestors
and the eternal spirit beings
has never changed.
Their spirit has never changed.
But the times have.
Gone are the times when nourishment came directly from the land
and could be returned to the land without consequence.
For when the fruits are picked directly from the trees,
you may return unneeded seeds and stalks to the land without consequence.
But when the fruits come wrapped in glitteringly toxic plastic,
and you return the unneeded to the land,
there now is consequence.
Similar can be said
of drinks that once, only came from rivers and lakes
but now come captured in shining synthetics,
Some containing not just the elixir of life, but the elixirs of death.
Or garments that once, only came from animals
but now come woven and dyed and glued out of naturalness.
And with this understanding my heart warms
the disregarded fragments of my expectations back into their clay origins.
Those days spent cradled tenderly in a perfect sphere of sky and earth
for now, I have left.
When I close my eyes, I still see
that faultless horizon, the way the sky blushed at the rising and falling amber sun,
Hands passing well-loved and time-worn balls,
Brushing excited streaks of colour over canvases,
Pointing at one thing or another, eager to explain.
I can still feel those rough and dirt coated hands grasping for mine,
The way the earth smeared me with love coloured soil,
The warm press of those juvenile limbs as they clambered up my back
eager to be carried,
Or those very weary little ones who melted
into softly snoring mounds, bundled in my arms.
I can still hear the rhythmically pure sound of their language,
their tinkling laughter,
The deep-toned, reverent words of the elders that echoed within,
The sporadic silences that hung contentedly in the air.
At the end of the year, I was so grateful when my school awarded me the St Vincent’s Woman for Others Social Justice Award 2018 – a lovely way to end the year knowing my environmental passion was appreciated.
The last years of high school are known for being academically rigorous, and I have indeed found this true! However, I have relished my study as I only chose subjects that I genuinely enjoy; English, Religion (focusing on Christianity, Islam and Buddhism), Drama, Visual Art (theory and practical) and Modern Greek. I also finished Maths this year at the end of my accelerated course. I didn’t enjoy Maths as much as my other subjects as it required so much time for me to perfect and I could not directly see its usefulness in my life. However, now that it is completed, I’m thankful for the way it made the other subjects more enjoyable and taught me persistence!
A few of my friends also did accelerated maths, and our other friends were very excited for us when we finished!
Last year brought many memorable experiences, like my sister and dad’s move to China for a few months and getting my L’s (learners licence). There were challenging times as I faced an ongoing back and, more recently, knee injury while continuing to balance my favourite sports like swimming with my hectic studies.
This year, I’m excited to complete my HSC (the Australian final high school exams) and my last year of schooling!
Wishing you a happy new year!