Tyler found out about Fusion’s annual Pilgrimage to Uluru from the Fusion Student Welfare Worker at his school.
He said that he wanted to go on the trip to learn more about Aboriginal Culture. His school was also going on a Gold Coast trip at the same time that the trip was on.
At first this was a hard decision to decide whether to go to the Gold coast with his school mates or go on the Uluru trip with people he had never met before. Tyler came to the conclusion that the Uluru trip was something special that he didn’t want to miss out on.
He said, “The Uluru trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I can go to the Gold Coast anytime. I want to go on the Uluru Pilgrimage.”
Unfortunately Tyler’s family wasn’t able to afford the trip. So they brainstormed some different ways that they could fundraise. Tyler and his mum put together money tins, placing them in local businesses, Tyler sold chocolates, Tyler and his mum went to the local shops and businesses asking people if they would consider supporting Tyler. He also helped the Fusion team and other pilgrims deliver yellow pages to businesses and homes around Canberra.
This money, together with other support from the community, Fusion supporters and events put on by the local Fusion team helped Tyler to be able to attend the trip this year.
On the trip, Tyler clashed with another boy in his small group. Both boys had strong personalities and gave little headway for compromise in the relationship. Both boys would argue and taunt each other constantly. It was particularly hard for them being together for sometimes up to 8 hours a day on the bus.
One lesson that particularly resonated with these two boys was the Aboriginal metaphor of the rock and the stream. We learned that sometimes in life it is necessary for us to be a rock, to be consistent, firm and stand up for what is right, while at other times it is necessary to be a stream, to be fluid and to go with the flow and the group.
Both boys would say to each other, “I am being a rock today”, in other words, I’m not changing myself for him. This left the two boys literally in between a rock and a hard place as neither of them would be willing to step down in an argument.
At Mutawinji National Park, the park ranger came past and asked if anyone would be willing to go out and get wood for the campfire.
The two boys enthusiastically put up their hands and went off in the ute together. The leaders let them go together, hoping that they wouldn’t kill each other. To everyone’s surprise, they came back laughing like old mates. That night at the campfire, they shared how they had both been two separate rocks, but that now they had been fluid enough to get along. Even if it was for a short time.
The boys continued to need frequent mediation as they yelled and ignored and fought. There would be times when they were best mates and times were they hated each other deeply. In our youth work we have seen this happen before when someone meets someone else who is very similar to you.
It wasn’t until the second to last night, that things really changed for the two boys. This was the night were the pilgrims were asked if they wanted to make a change in their life for now and when they go home.
This night, things had reached a serious peak. After a miss understanding the two boys were threatening to hit the other, and both were very upset.
However this same night, without realising, both boys had responded to what was shared about making a change in their life. After this the boys were arguing over which one deserved the arm band which said: “Build people up, help people grow, because people matter.” These were the values of the trip and in the end the boys decided that they both didn’t deserve to wear the bands, because they hadn’t been building each other up or treating each other like they matter. One of the boys gave his band to a leader and said, don’t give it back to me until I earn it back.
For the remaining two days, their relationship was by no means perfect. They still clashed with others and with each other. But they had learned a lot about themselves, how to get along with people that you might clash with and how to treat everyone like they matter.
By the end of the trip both boys had earned their bands back.
We sought the permission of Tyler and his mum to use his name in this article. We were going to use a ‘pseudo name’ as is our normal practice, but they were both adamant that we use Tyler’s real name.