The power of stories: connecting us to our cultures, unlocking our potential

Taryn Marks, AIME General Manager

In line with the NAIDOC Week 2020 theme Always Was, Always Will Be, I write this recognising the Wathaurong/Wadda Wurrung peoples where I live, and am grateful to the Elders and the community here for keeping my family and I safe on Country, for gifting stories that keep us connected and grounded in our cultures and languages.

I am from Wotjobaluk Country, Wergaia language group and with more recent connections to Dja Dja Wurrung Country. From a long line of storytellers and educators.

I pay my respects to the Elders past and present. I also honor the future Elders: the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. At AIME, we focus on the ecosystem to support the next generation of Elders. That they grow up strong in themselves, fulfil their hopes and dreams, and continue to carry the languages, cultural traditions and stories.

We also work across the USA and the continent of Africa to connect and share the success of 16 years of AIME mentoring creating education parity.

To zoom out, on the recent election of President Joe Biden and Madam Vice President Kamala Harris, I’m encouraged to hear Biden’s speech with references to “hope” and naming “systemic racism”. I hope that this type of leadership and narrative continues to permeate across the world, to catch up with what many underrepresented peoples have been saying for centuries. To see such people in power open up this dialogue on a global stage, particularly on systemic racism, is long overdue. To see it continue and enable real world solutions, will be even better.

Part of the story so far suggests that Madam Vice President is representing the “first” of many things. This is hopeful for young girls everywhere, and a celebration for many reasons. It is also a script that serves as a reminder of a system that has long denied and oppressed diverse experts and thinkers a seat at the table, or in this case, a place in the White House. We must keep questioning and re writing the narrative, particularly for the next generation. So instead, a truth could be to suggest it is a “first” that the system has enabled equality.

I have most recently worked and had an interest in Indigenous-led media and storytelling, and to accelerate strengths-based narratives for our people on screen.

Under representation in the media has improved, but media has also grown. Uptake of social media has contributed to the loss of higher order thinking. There are no lines anymore between school and not school environments. They are combined and confused, and we must ensure children and young people have access to trusted knowledge and learning.

And so enter the Mentor.

At AIME we believe kids need to see excellence and wisdom to “Flip their own Script”.

“You can’t be what you can’t see” is a favorite quote and one that is so very true in this world of work.

At AIME, the learning intended is to rewrite how we look at ourselves. The way we look at failure, to find truth and deepen shared knowledges. Stories matter, the ones told for us and the ones we tell about ourselves. We mentor kids so they have the power of writing and re-writing their own stories. We also hope to share stories with others and inspire the possibilities of creating a fairer world.

AIME’s work and that of IMAGI-NATION {University} is transforming education from the inside, and creating equality and more access to opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other marginalised high school kids. It is as much art, as it is science, to unlock the potential of all kids and to build bridges between them and the opportunities of the world.
This year we haven’t celebrated NAIDOC Week in its usual way but AIME still connected and kept kids in touch with the mentors. Much appreciation and thank you particularly to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mentors that joined us on IMAGI-NATION {TV} this year, sharing their experiences and wisdom.