Taking a different path

Post: Taking a different path

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How has COVID-19 changed your world? It has affected so many of our hopes and dreams, and changed so many plans. With a maturity beyond her years, Tamworth Girls Academy graduate Giann White shares a little of her story:

Yaama Ngaya Giaan White. Ngaya Gamilaraay yinarr Tamworth-dhi.
(Hello, I am Giaan White. I am a Gamilaraay woman from Tamworth.)

Over the past year I have completed my high school certificate at Tamworth High School and am now at a crossroads. I have recently been on my gap year living in England and working at a boarding school as a boarding assistant.

My job consisted of working in one of the boarding houses at my school, where I worked closely with the girls who lived in the house, helping them with their schoolwork, after-school activities and getting ready for school and going to bed.

My experience overseas helped me quickly adapt to become a young adult, as I went from being the student in 2019 to the staff member in 2020.

Whilst on my gap year I was lucky enough to make new friends who became family and to travel to places such as Dubai and Ireland, where I explored two different parts of the world. I loved exploring these other cultures and places because it truly makes me appreciate the culture I have at home and where I come from.

Living close to London was another epic thing for me. Not only was the British lifestyle different, but living 20 minutes from London was such a change to my six-hour drive to Sydney. I went from my comfortable hometown bubble, where everyone has connections somehow, to a constantly evolving city that has so many modern parts of society combined with years of history. It honestly felt like a dream.

However, my gap year has come to a halt due to COVID-19 and I have returned home for my safety. This crossroad was something that I never saw coming (like most of us), and I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been hard. It was such a whirlwind.

I went from catching trains into Notting Hill and exploring markets with my friend to catching a flight home to Australia the next day. Trying to process this rapid change, and then spending two weeks in quarantine wasn’t the best time.

I have coped with these changes by doing a small action that Girls Academy taught me: Writing down my aims and my goals. I have found myself in times like this coming back to those goals and dreams and re-evaluating my plan and where I want to go. They are like personal guidelines that help me. They have helped me develop my directions in life once I walked outside the school gates, especially the notion of having a Plan B (and C) that I have now fallen on due to COVID-19.

For those unsure about what they want to do — or maybe you just don’t want to go to university or TAFE straight away — gap years are definitely something to look into.

When I was in Year 10 I went to the Girls Academy leadership conference in Canberra. Rashna Shroff (corporate programs and sponsorships manager, Nestlé Australia) asked what we planned on doing after Year 12 and I told her how I was on the fence. Rashna said she wished she had done a gap year and travelled after university. However, she was offered a job she couldn’t turn down and since then those chances to travel have been sacrificed for work and other things.

This advice definitely helped me decide to take a gap year, and it’s advice that I would give to anyone considering a break from school, too.

It still resonates with me now, as I have to decide whether to go to university next year or to do another gap year and fully complete my 12 months in England.

Overall, the last 12 months have been insane! My life has changed drastically; it has felt like a rollercoaster with highs and lows. There are times where it has been exhausting and I have struggled but when you achieve those goals you have set, those highs make the struggles all worth it.

However, I definitely couldn’t have gotten through the lows without my close support network — my family, friends, teachers and Girls Academy. These people are still supporting me now in Year 13 and are constantly checking up on me, which I truly appreciate.

If I was to leave you with advice that I have learnt from the past 12 months, it would be a quote that resonates with me: “Direction is so much more important than speed. Some are going nowhere fast.”

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