The Australian National Maritime Museum’s Bill Lane USA Gallery Fellowship welcomed a group of eight indigenous high school students from Hawaiʻi and Australia over the weekend to take part in a first nation cross-cultural exchange.
The purpose of the annual Fellowship program is to foster relationships that develop greater understanding of the shared maritime heritage between Australia and the United States. This year marks the first time that indigenous culture was the focus of the program.
“This fellowship brings together aboriginal Australians, the oldest indigenous community in the world, with Native Hawaiians, the youngest indigenous population in the world,” said the Ambassador of the United States to Australia John Berry.
“This is my first time coming to Australia and I’ve never experienced anything like this,” says Hawaiʻi student, Kaʻilikapu Maikui. “I’ve never had the experience to mingle with a lot of indigenous youth and I’m really glad we get to meet aboriginals of this ʻāina that they come from and we get to learn and exchange with them.”
“Well, I was hoping for all of us that is here to take different knowledge from our lands and countries and go back to our communities and talk about it with different people and leaders in our community,” says Hayden Charles, a student from New South Wales.
“It’s invigorating because you believe the future is going to be so much better when you see students as bright as these, as passionate as they are,” says Berry. “They care about wildlife, they care about the conservation of our world, and they are very proud of their history as a people.”