The People of Australia

Posted: July 16, 2014

Name: Megan Nicholson
Position: Interim Student Affairs Manager
Program: Techniques for Rainforest Research, Australia

Not everyone has the opportunity to live a year in a Tropical Rainforest in Australia. Waking up to chowchillas, venturing out to the Crater Lakes for a swim, spotting pademelons and tree kangaroos, and attending the monthly Yungaburra markets are just a few of the things that have made this place so wonderful. Recently, I have had to say goodbye to two people who have experienced the past year with SFS right alongside me, Jenna, former Student Affairs Manger and Olivia, former Natural Resource Management Intern. Naturally, after working so closely together for the past year and living under the same time roof, the three of us bonded into true rainforest best friends. Before they left, we had a conversation that has really stuck with me, reflecting on all of the people that we have met over the past year and have helped make the Tablelands our home.

The cozy Centre for Rainforest Studies (CRS) in the middle of the rainforest would be nothing without the staff that helps make this place a home. John, Site Manager, and Iris, Cook, could win the cutest couple of the Tablelands award. They help hold this place together, literally. John expertly fixes anything and everything day or night, and Iris cooks the most delicious meals that keep the students and staff cleaning their plates. Nikki, the Accounts Manager, livens up the centre whenever she’s in and has the best advice on what to do in town. Amanda, Centre Director, runs the show and keeps everything going smoothly. As busy as she is, her door is always open for advice, guidance, or venting when you need a load off your shoulders. The professors, with all their enthusiasm, create such wonderful lectures and programs for the students to get out and truly experience Australia. They remind us each day how remarkable experiential learning is and how lucky we are to have this opportunity. Together with the students, who give the program life, we have a close-knit family that has made me nostalgic already, a month before my own departure.

The locals here make it truly unique, and I would be missing a huge piece of the puzzle if I didn’t speak about the amazing community members here in the Tablelands. You don’t just come to stay at CRS, you come and immerse yourself into the community. We’ve planted alongside the people at TREAT (Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands) and they’ve inspired us with their passion for restoration. The members of TKMG (Tree Kangaroo and Mammal Group), have let us be a part of monthly meetings, sit in on their talks and eat all their delicious snacks. The community helps make our research and service projects possible. Everywhere you go, everyone is ready to greet SFS students and staff with open arms.

SFS has given me and many others a home away from home in the Tablelands in Australia, a family to miss when we return home.