One of my current units at UWA is called Indigenous People and Social Work. Indigenous studies is a very important topic in Australia and so it is no surprise that this is one of our first units. I feel like everything I previously learned and read about the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities is now being reinforced, expanded and given a new Social Work perspective. I hope that by the end of this unit I will begin to see my knowledge deepen beyond a superficial understanding. A documentary that was recommended to us is Putuparri and the Rainmakers. I’m not sure how you would get ahold of it in the US but in Australia you can stream it through SBS On Demand. This documentary talks about Aboriginal culture, history, land rights, the law and so much more. It is yet another perspective and another group of voices to add to my understanding and appreciation for Aboriginal life, history and culture.
Think the Post Office is just for mailing things? Think again. In the US we can do some passport things at the post office and also buy a few post related items like greeting cards or packing materials. But in general a US Post Office is simply for the mail. Ryan and I were expecting the same from Australia Post but we’ve been pleasantly surprised. Australia Post is so much more than just mail. Our neighborhood post office is amazingly useful and the staff are also very helpful.Example 1: Since we now live in an apartment where packages can’t easily be delivered, we went to the post office to see what they offered. We were expecting some sort of paid PO Box service but instead they have a free service where we are assigned a number and our packages can be mailed directly to the post office, we get an email that they’ve arrived and then we can pick them up when it’s convenient for us. This even works for things that have to be signed for. Easy!
Example 2: Ryan went to the post office to buy envelopes in order to mail the transfer of ownership paperwork for the car we just bought. When he got to the counter, the man noticed the paper and told him that he could process it right there. Ryan saved a stamp and a trip to the Department of Transport (the Aussie DMV). The post office here not only does passport services but they process other paperwork too. Super convenient!
Example 3: The post office here also sells all sorts of things. They have the typical mail related things but they also have books, gifts, Christmas lights, shredders and other general office supplies. They even have a flyer that comes out with their latest offerings and sales. Practical!
Getting to know Australia means getting to know the basic services we need and the post office has been a wonderfully pleasant surprise.
I made enchiladas! The experiment was a success and we all ate well last night. They even had a garnish of fresh cilantro from our one practical houseplant. However, I had some hurdles to overcome in order to complete this recipe, the most basic being chili powder. You should understand that chili powder in Australia is not the same as chili powder in the US. It’s a good thing I was told this a few weeks ago because otherwise last night would not have been tasty, it would have been painful. As far as I know, chili powder in Australia is the equivalent of cayenne pepper in the US. And US chili powder is actually a mix of spices including cayenne pepper, paprika and cumin. Still spicy but not fire level hot. Can you tell the difference between the 3 red spices now in my cupboard? Maybe I should start labeling things, but anyway the first thing I had to do in order to make my red enchilada sauce was actually make the chili powder. You can buy it here under the name Mexican chili powder but I was unable to find it earlier this week. And speaking of things I couldn’t find, green chilis in a can were also unavailable at the grocery store. I believe I have seen these here but since I couldn’t find them on demand, they will now be on my list of “if I see it, buy it”. Because there will definitely be a next time making this deliciousness.I normally make two kinds of enchiladas at the same time, red and green. This is because we like them both, so why not just have both. But I think in order to make the green I am going to have to either learn how to make green salsa or find green salsa at another store. But that’s an adventure for another day. Although I wouldn’t mind hearing if anyone has any green salsa recipes or maybe ideas for green enchiladas sans green salsa if that’s possible. For now, the red enchiladas were a winner and I can add this to the list of things I’ve successfully accomplished making in Perth.
Two words. Mexican food. We miss our burritos. We miss endless baskets of tortilla chips and inexpensive salsa. And then there’s the cheese but that’s a whole other blog post. We’re making it work and there are many more options than I’m used to having after living in places like Germany or Papua New Guinea so I won’t complain. Old El Paso is, after all, quite the staple in most grocery stores. But this interesting bounty doesn’t change that we are missing some of our trusted staples and learning to eat creatively when we want to indulge our Mexican cravings. Some of this has to do more with my frugalness than actually not being able to find things. For example, there is an American store in town, two in fact. See my previous blog post: The American Store. But you’re not only going to pay a marked up price, you’re going to pay for their gift of importing these goodies to you too. So that jar of salsa is now $8. But sometimes you get lucky and they are on sale so you stock up and also offer them to your friends because you know they’ll appreciate the new lower $3 price too:-) This means that we are now unapologetic about the shelf in our pantry that looks like this but when this salsa is gone we might just start making our own. Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple places in town that make a decent Mexican meal but it’s just not the same. So I will continue to use my Trader Joe’s taco seasoning sparingily and keep rationing out the large bottle of Cholula that we brought in our suitcases. I will enjoy making our favorite chicken tortilla soup once the weather cools down again. But this week, I think I need to scrap my meal plan and see if I can gather enough ingredients to make my homemade enchiladas. If I can pull this off relatively inexpensively, it will be quite the Mexican food achievement.
Getting to know Perth is a priority for us. We want to experience and enjoy this city while we’re living here. During the Summer, there are a lot of activities to seek out and enjoy but we’ve been warned that there isn’t as much to do in the winter. I’m not fully convinced yet because there still is a long list of places I want to explore. Being out and about in the city also allows us to meet the people who live in, work in and make up the human part of city life. The people are definitely a reflection of the city. We’ve been finding activities on Instagram, through friends and also doing internet searches which turn up websites like: Guide to Perth and Experience Perth. It’s fun to look up lists of things to do in Perth and see that we’ve already checked off a few of the big activities that everyone recommends. What will our next adventure be?
Perth International Arts Festival opened this weekend with an amazing light show through Kings Park. Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak explored the Australian landscape through lights music and story telling.
The pictures from my phone don’t do it any justice. But it was pretty spectacular even with the crowds of other people surrounding us. Just listening to the music was mesmerizing. Another wonderful free Perth event was a great way to end the weekend.
Paradox is the right word to use when discussing the relationships to leaders and views of leadership in Australia. This “lucky country” has an interesting history that has fed into these paradoxes of leadership and authority. I’m thankful for this book to help navigate some of the unspoken rules and general assumptions that a typical Australian wouldn’t question or think twice about. But this book isn’t just for outsiders seeking to understand the system. This book is a great read for Australians who want to unpack what may be obvious in regards to Australian leadership but also what sits, often hidden, beneath the surface.
The Australian Leadership Paradox: What it Takes to Lead in the Lucky Country by Geoff Aigner and Liz Skelton walks the line between critique and advice very well. More than just stating the paradoxes themselves, they begin to tease out the why behind them. And they also give examples of how Australian leadership can and should change for the better. These examples are in the form of short stories which give context and I believe make them easily relatable as well. Anyone who has ever struggled in a position of leadership in Australia could potentially find their story here. And in finding their story, hopefully see how they could be empowered to change their leadership style for the better without losing some of the great things about being Australian.
This book is primarily talking to Australians about Australians and for that it speaks very well. For me personally I will have to do my best to apply this knowledge appropriately because so far my interactions in Perth have been with very few Australians. In the past month, I have met more immigrants or children of immigrants than anyone else. This is maybe my own personal paradox, coming to Australia, seeking to know and understand Australians. But instead of being surrounded by primarily born and raised, multi-generational Australians, I’m surrounded by an amazingly multinational, multiethnic community. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but my own definitions of what it means to be Australian are definitely being expanded.