AIME’s FIRST African Australian Program Day

Posted 29th July 2018

On Thursday, July 26th we ran the very first program day for the African Australian chapter of AIME.

On Wednesday, the day before, I woke at 4am feeling fully rested. I am not a morning person by any stretch but the adrenaline kicked-in and off I went. I was at the office just after 7am. I had the content for the program day playing in the background of my mind as I combed through the checklist. Any person who walked past the office that looked remotely African gave my heart a jolt as I eagerly worked away.

On one hand, I was thinking about everything that could go wrong, and how the kids would react to see just five of them in the room. And on the other hand, I heard Ben Abbatangelo and Jack Manning Bancroft say, “from little things big things grow” and I kept repeating it to myself.

I adjusted my shopping list, listed things to print and anxiously watched the clock. Bevis, one of AIME’s videographers arrived and we did some filming in the office and at the room.

Soon Thursday arrived: D day. I woke up early again and went straight to the office.

After arriving that morning and seeing all the boxes with printouts, and decorations; the nerves kicked-in.

I moved some boxes up to the room and started setting up. Staff arrived, mentors arrived and we went down to meet the kids.

I walked into the room and the African Australian kids are immersed in the warm up games and making banter. All the nerves disappeared. I was all smiles seeing everyone getting along. We had a day full of energy, laughter and bonding. As we wrapped up the day I could tell the kids were stoked. They had come with an open mind and left with full hearts.

It was the start of flipping the script as African Australian kids take charge of the narrative.

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Earlier this year, there were only five months until my visa was to expire and no jobs on the horizon. I had consulted a few migration agents and most of them were either asking for money I didn’t have or telling me my situation was hopeless. The time was drawing closer and it was getting harder to sustain myself on freelance and casual work. I was broke, frustrated and confused on how to handle the situation. Sidney, my flatmate was keeping track of how many shifts I was working and checking up on me regularly.

The opportunity to kickstart the AIME African Australian chapter came about in March and I shared this with Sidney. We both knew it was a long shot and I had two months to go until my visa expired. I quickly applied. After going through a few steps to make it to the final stage, I got the email at 4:52 pm on Friday the 11th of May, the job was mine. Excitement, tears of joy, laughter and all the feels running through.

Reflecting back on this time and what has happened this week, AIME has given me an opportunity to give others an opportunity to wear their identity with pride, dream the bravest goals and flip the script. African Australians walking alongside the traditional custodians of this beautiful country fills my heart with joy and pride.

A little goes a long way as we close the inequality gap. Kindness is cool and I’m proud to be part of this movement.

Bem Ikyanyon

Program Manager, African Australian Stream & Magic Maker ✨

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