In the early morning on 16 July, I travelled to Adelaide by myself, followed by the first week of internship during my stay in Adelaide, in the identity of a foreign student from Hong Kong to work in History Trust of South Australia. To be honest, it is the first full-time office work in my life. After the hardest and most nerve-racking days in the start of living in a foreign country, I tried my best to adapt to the new life with many new people (my supervisors, colleagues and members of host family) and new things. Pushing myself for quick adaptation, I began to feel more relaxed and comfortable living in Adelaide since 20 July, which is unbelievable to be honest with myself. The working environment and culture of this institution is relaxing that I enjoy, and the people here are nice. It is amazing to start my “community university” here, to learn while working after university life.
This orientation week is for me to be familiar with the work of History Trust SA, about what it is about. I had the chances to visit two of the sites (Centre of Democracy and Migration Museum) under its operation, as a government institution to run museums, and promote history and culture inherited from the past, with spiritual and educational values to know where we are from, who we are, and how we will be going along the way in the future. The location of History Trust is interesting that it tells part of the history of South Australia, as the former training depot of military troops. Its purpose has been entirely changed today, but the name “Torrens Training Ground” is still kept to denote this area in the city centre, making people remember the history. Besides History Trust, it now houses the other government institutions.
History of Hong Kong is not highly recognized due to the fact that she experienced the British colonial governance for 1.5 centuries, and this small city I grow up in is just a piece of “borrowed land” with “borrowed time”. The return of sovereignty to China in 1997 marks a milestone in Hong Kong’s history, but it is controversial and political that the second colonial governance will be Chinese sovereignty (socialist ideology of Communist Party of China) if one day in the future the promise of “one country, two systems” with a high degree of autonomy vanishes in Hong Kong. In the past decade after 1997 handover, “local consciousness” became visible and Hong Kong people began to pursue their cultural identity in between Britain and China. Living in this piece of land as a native, it resonates with my feelings when I visited the Centre of Democracy on 18 July.
The curator’s tour delivered by Craig Middleton was quite educational, because the exhibition he curated provides us with a brief outlook of political and democratic development in Australian history. It is concise for us to have a glimpse of the moments of South Australian democracy. I realized that Australia is among the developed democratic countries in the contemporary world. The political thought of democracy in Australia may have its origin and influence from British colonization in the 1800s. It is similar to Hong Kong’s political fate, but Australians began to enjoy high degree of political freedom and right after colonization. I was given a voting card to exercise the political right as a game of the exhibition in the curator’s tour, but the implication is profound to be thought of. Not only voting symbolizes the exercise of political right, people in democratic polity can be elected to the government, participate in the referendums, organize political movements to express their wills towards governance…..these are some other ways to do so.
The visit in Migration Museum on 19 July was another learning opportunity for me to have a brief picture about history of Australia. The curated content is related to the origin of Australians. It is interesting and interactive for the public to learn from the several permanent exhibitions. Kaurna is the group of Aboriginal people in Australia, and I am curious to know more about them with some self-study. It reminds me that language and culture are the fundamental elements to integrate a community and nation. When European explorers invaded, Kaurna first experienced the shock of colonization in which their fundamental rights and powers as human were severely exploited. It is a period of dark history of Australia. I am quite interested to study the impacts of colonization towards Aboriginal people and colonists, about their conflicts and political struggles. “White Australia” policy contributes to the building of Australia resulted from British colonization. Ethnocentrism is the ideology related behind this policy, because white people (mainly from Europe including British people) regard themselves as the superior race in the world. White civilization is facilitated by the language cultivation of English to people all over the world, and it is a kind of ideology. In addition, I am interested to know more about the immigration policy of Australia nowadays.
The first week enables me to learn about Australia’s colonization, migration, and democracy since the 1800s. I will do some self-study to know more in-depth about these interrelated topics.