Timor Report - Patrick Western
Posted: 31-Jul-2019

Industry and Infrastructure and the Common Good

You don’t realise how organised and well-kept Australian towns and roads are until you travel to a place which doesn’t have proper sewerage systems, rubbish disposal or law enforcement. It was a real awakening especially travelling through Dili but also in Ainaro that they have no way of getting rid of plastic bottles or anything except burning them which wasn’t preferred over just discarding them on the sides of the road. We found that even in Ainaro, picturesque landscapes with a stunning mountainous background and some native cows in the foreground in pastures were tainted due to the amount of plastic absolutely everywhere. This is obviously because of the remoteness of these communities, coupled with the lack of waste disposal infrastructure.

A surprising and extremely valuable lesson that I learnt was how close a group can get, when sharing a sometimes confrontational and uncomfortable but equally extraordinary experience in a foreign country. To be honest, before we left, we didn’t really know each other and how we would work in a group situation because we had come from different backgrounds and didn’t really hang out much at school. This trip completely changed that. As soon as we were in a plane going from one side of the country to the opposite, and then to a different country all together, we realised that this is going to be a hard eleven days if we don’t come together as a unit and face this challenge together. That’s exactly what we did and I am so thankful we could. We have become the best of friends since this trip; we helped each other through quite challenging and confronting times and yes, sometimes the situation wasn’t ideal for the whole group but through that we were still able to build and maintain a really solid relationship with each other that I am certainly very grateful for.

Timor-Leste was hands down, the most rewarding and valuable experience of my life. It taught me that even without the materialistic things that we cherish so dearly in Western Society, incredible happiness can still be achieved, evidently to even a higher standard. I miss the loving nature of the Timorese people; their enthusiasm and eagerness just to say “Hello” or in Tetum, “Bondia” from their house as you walk by, followed by a huge grin. I miss the beautiful friends I made at Santa Maria, but I know that they have potential to go far with the attitudes they apply to their learning and their eagerness to study at university. The lessons I have learnt from this experience are worth far more than any amount of money, and I truly believe this is life-changing experience that cannot be passed up. It is with great pride, but a hint of reminiscent sadness that I now have to pass on the baton to next year’s immersion team. However, it brings me great comfort knowing that they will value this trip of a lifetime as much as I have.

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