Toby Joske and Riley Dolman are upper year students from the University of Western Australia (UWA), in Perth. They are attending the BISC this winter term as part of an exchange organised through the Castle’s Matariki partnership. For the uninitiated, the Matariki Network of Universities (MNU) is an international group of leading, research focussed universities - Queen’s and UWA among them - which promote extracurricular activities in diverse scholarly communities, so as to develop students that are well rounded citizens of the world.
Toby, who is in her 3rd year at UWA, has just finished her major in linguistics, and is now in the process of finishing an elective major in philosophy. She is looking forward to sitting in on the BISC’s Critical Thinking lectures, and her time at the Castle gives her a useful course credit in Global Citizenship. Toby’s two majors are very much focussed on all-things theoretical, so she sees the BISC as a welcome opportunity to do some applied research and get some hands-on experience.
Her BISC experience follows a hugely rewarding McCusker internship at UWA, so she will also be using the time to continue her studies in poverty and inequality. She is particularly interested in loneliness support and other frontline services. “It is always so useful to experience first-hand how policy affects communities on the ground,” she says. Toby has arranged a visit to the local Hailsham Food Bank to give some of the policies she has read about context, do some hands-on volunteering, and get a better sense of some of the challenges facing staff.
Toby sees her visit as strengthening ties, not just between Queen’s and UWA, but the Matariki university network across the board. As she sees it, she is laying the groundwork for future exchanges.
Riley is close to completing the second year of a Masters in Clinical Exercise Physiology. Unlike Toby, he will not receive any actual course credits for being here – he is simply here for the outstanding life experience.
His first impressions of the Castle were very complimentary. “It’s crazy to think that you have such great facilities for learning in such an amazing structure,” he says. “I love the contrast of having such interesting places for study and private reflection in this remote location and then realising somewhere like Brighton is practically on your doorstep!”
Riley identifies as an aboriginal male and engages with aboriginal communities at universities back home. He has also visited Queen’s main campus and worked with reconciliation groups there. He heard about the BISC when he attended an Indigenous Student Mobility Program at Dartmouth College and spoke to a delegate who was a Development Studies major at Queen’s. Sometime later at a Matariki conference at Durham University, he met the BISC’s delegate, Professor Barbara Holler, who persuaded him to apply.
While he is at the Castle, Riley is keen to share some of his people’s culture of storytelling, known as ‘Yarning’. “Many indigenous peoples have a campfire culture which we believe leads to deeper understanding and stronger bonding,” says Riley. He is keen to get as many students and staff as he can around a campfire to conduct his own informal interviews and story-sharing exercises. Riley loves any opportunity to speak about his cultural heritage, so he is very pleased that Barbara has also promised that he will be able to lead at least one of her cultural DEVS classes.
Riley loves to chat and has already spent time in Brighton’s Happy Café, one of over 100 centres around the world created by the charity ‘Action for Happiness.’ The cafés have the simple but inspiring goal of creating friendly and welcoming spaces to meet other people with a shared interest in promoting happiness and wellbeing. We like to think the Castle community provides an especially friendly environment too, and Riley confirms this, saying, “People at the BISC have been incredibly welcoming and so easy to approach at lunchtimes for a chat!”