We have all had such a wonderful weekend here at the Australian Center. It began Friday night with the celebration of The School for Field Studies 25th anniversary. The students, staff, and local community members all gathered for dinner in Yungaburra to share our experiences and involvement with SFS. Students discussed purpose, staff discussed history, and locals talked about how SFS has benefited the surrounding communities.
It was that night when I finally realized the significance and importance of what students like me are doing here at SFS. We may not realize it while we are out sweating in the field, running after cane toads in the dark and getting “piddled on,” or meticulously measuring regrowth forests in itchy tobacco plants, but what we are doing is important and it matters. We may not understand now, but when we all look back on this experience—whether in Bhutan, East Africa, Costa Rica, or here in the magical rainforest of Australia—we will know that we were making a difference, may it be small, and we have all contributed to saving this planet. I cannot think of a nobler task.
The next day we all headed to the Yungaburra markets where we shared with some of the locals what we are doing tucked away in the rainforest off the Gillies Highway. We painted birds, flowers, and butterflies on children’s faces, passed out cassowary stickers, and struck up conversations with parents about our work in their backyard. We strolled around the markets and the town, collecting items to take back home with us and share with our families and friends.
Finally on Sunday we headed into Kuranda where some of us held koalas, got pooped on by beautiful, rainbow colored birds, and hung out with kangaroos. We walked around the touristy town, enjoyed lunch, and found some really awesome kangaroo leather souvenirs to take back home with us.
The most important part of the trip, though, was our van ride back home at five o’ clock with the sun beginning to settle along with the towns and the students all dozing off from the long day. As I looked out of the window at the blurred tree lines and vast farms, I again realized that these are the moments I will remember for the rest of my life. I think each one of us, wherever we are, has had one of those moments where goose bumps crawl up our skin, and we know that we are exactly where we are supposed to be.
You can’t escape the magic of the rainforest even if you try, and as I looked out on the mountains as they guarded the sugar cane fields and banana orchards and birds flew out dotting the blue skies and dusk began falling over Australia, I thought to myself: this is just the beginning of my adventure. This is the start to a lifetime full of moments like these.