What a jam-packed month it’s been.
Sadly, the month started with a cancelled Gumi race, disappointing many in our community that had already created their rafts only to discover the river was barely at thigh level. Instead as the food vendors and entertainment carried on, the South Wagga Apex put on a duck race which brought on much joy and laughter for all. Rotary Club of Wagga Wagga invited Alexandra Tierney (Chair) and I (Stina) to speak at their meeting. Alex was able to speak about the quest and I was asked to share a bit about my story, journey in the quest and my desire for community change. After the talk and questions, I was presented with a truly moving gift from the Club; donating funds to vaccinate 10 children against Polio in gratitude for my presence. Truly touched! Then there were a variety of different meetings including meeting with a couple of people regarding TheDVProject2650 regarding a new prevention and attitude change approach to Family and Domestic Violence in Wagga, as well as meeting with Carolyn from Papel Paper to discuss future possibilities. The Papel Paper Studio is other worldly and left me (Stina) quite gobsmacked and inspired.
Visit Wagga then invited us to partake in a photoshoot with photographer Chloe from Victoria @_chloesmithphotography_, for their upcoming promotion material. We had so much fun laughing and being silly, enjoying the afternoon and sunset at a variety of venues around Wagga. The creative genius that Chloe brought created such a fun space and atmosphere, from hand and foot modelling, to action hero strides. Anything for a good laugh, and to promote our city.
We then turned the formal dial a few notches up as I (Stina) attended the March Citizenship Ceremony and met the lovely Aboriginal Elder Aunty Dot and chatted with her for a bit before helping the Mayor welcome our new citizens. Aunty Dot was an absolute pleasure to speak with and start to get to know.
I (Presslea) was privileged to be invited to Wagga Wagga High School to assist with their ‘Chicktionary’ program and do a ‘What is Physical Health and Wellbeing’ workshop. The girls conducted a small PT session followed by a sit down chat about physical health, mental health, exercise, social media and nutrition. It was such a great afternoon in the sun with the girls.
On the 17th of March, I (Stina) was in attendance of the Night Prayer Vigil hosted by MARWA Muslim Association Riverina Wagga Wagga and Wagga City Council. The night was filled with sombre words, trying to express what only silence could adequately describe. There was an air of such incredible respect and unity as the candles flickered across the Victory Memorial Garden, only to later congregate along with flowers, and signs. With every head nod and greeting of ‘As-salamu alaykum’, Wagga’s oneness was evident. Together is the only way forward.
This then carried me (Stina) into Harmony Day which was a big one. It started with a whole school address at Kapooka Primary School on my personal journey to Australia, entering the Quest, becoming a titleholder and upcoming travel to Germany to visit our sister city. I was able to teach the students a couple of words in both Tamil (Sri Lankan) and Norwegian. The sound of their voices in unison saying ‘Vanakkam’ is a moment I will treasure for a long time to come. So surreal, and so special to share a moment of ‘I respect you’, fitting for Harmony Day. Then I was able to join in the day’s activities, answer questions in their classes and learn about the student’s heritage one on one. Some of those children well and truly stole my heart. From the young girl who wanted to know if I had a fancy car, a driver, and lived in a palace, to the young man who stopped mid-sentence only to say ‘I Feel odd inside... I just realised you’re standing right there, you’re Miss Wagga, and I’m talking to you, and that just makes me feel funny inside’. AWWW!!! Kiddo, that makes me feel funny inside too, all warm and fuzzy!
From there, I went straight to Relationships Australia Canberra & Region’s office, to meet with the Domestic Violence Reference group, to share a bit about my journey, professional experience working with Families of Domestic Violence, and my desire to work towards prevention rather than awareness. After this I went directly to The Cancer Council and joined in, in an international lunch, followed by teaching some Cuban Dancing, and then chatting about Harmony Day. Really taking the time to dialogue about what it means, and what little things we can do to facilitate change in our society, away from discrimination.
In this last week, I (Stina) was able to also speak to the S.O.C.I.A.L Slimmers about my journey to Australia, my journey as an entrant and ambitions for the remainder of the role, followed by a Q&A from the 60+ members that were present. Questions included everything from ‘Do you want to be an Australian Citizen someday?’ through to ‘With how busy you are, how do you maintain your figure?’
The Q&A continued a few days later at Mater Dei Catholic College with the year 9 girls for their Wellbeing program. Community female leaders were invited to take part in a Speed Q&A for a few hours, where a group of girls in rotation, would ask anything they liked, from career to personal life and life choices. Some of the questions were quite deep, including conversations of discrimination, true feminism, challenges in high school, body image, confidence and pursuing something when people tell you, ‘you can’t’. There was a lot of de-bunking quest myths of pageantry, when I’ll be applying for Miss Universe, as well more thought provoking ‘will you miss being ambassador after November?’ Solid thinkers in that room, I’m hoping that I met a future Miss Wagga or Community Princess there, or better yet Wagga Mayor.
The Month ended with The Sister City Meeting, the year is already flying by and before we know it we will be in Germany. We are both in the process of making our final plans for travel and are so excited. It was nice to meeting with the sister city committee and to see what deep conversations the committee have regarding ongoing relationships with other cities as well as potential future relationships.
A Mammoth month for sure, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you would like the titleholders to attend your event, or speak to you community group/school etc. please contact our coordinator Sarah Navin on email@example.com
Let’s go April!
Love from MWW & CP
aka local Queen & Princess