Since I’ve been in Australia, I’ve noticed a number of lawn bowling places that never seem to be lacking for activity. Never having heard of lawn bowling before, I brought it up at work a few months ago and suggested that we should all give it a go sometime…so it was decided that we would plan it as my farewell. This last Sunday was the day to try it on for size. Everyone in the group was far from practiced at lawn bowing, so we tended to make up the rules as we went along. The concept is similar to bocce ball (as near as I can tell having never played that either). A small white ball is thrown out onto the lawn, and two teams do their best to roll their colored balls as close to the white ball as possible. The four closest balls receive points for the corresponding teams. The main difficulty is that the balls are weighted on one side and roll in a curve. More often than not, my balls ended up in the next lane over, but a few people caught on quickly, making the final scoring deliberations difficult at times. Our group started off fairly small, but by the time we left, there were ten of us altogether.
Today was my last day, and I arrived at work rather early to play the part of Santa Claus and deliver Michigan souvenirs (Michigan, North Pole – pretty much the same thing, except this year from what I hear). Matt, the Director, was perhaps the most excited about his gift, a U of M hat which he sported nearly the entire day after declaring that it was “the best gift he’d ever received” (certainly a slight exaggeration). As part of my last few days at NCYLC, I have taken an inventory of all the projects/documents I’ve worked on in some capacity or developed from scratch during the past eleven weeks. It’s quite a decent list, but more important than the quantity of documents is the consensus that the output has been useful not just to meet deadlines and requirements but to help develop some procedures and standards that will help other volunteers (and staff) manage their time more efficiently and complete work that is of better quality (theoretically at least). One of my projects was to create a style guide for two of the Centre’s written communication-based services. The project’s grand finale came today when Katy (another international intern/volunteer) and I presented it to the staff and as well as a number of volunteers. Katy has had some experience with editing the documents we discussed, while I presented a more technical approach, boring the audience with some of my favorite things – dissecting sentences for parts of speech and picking apart appropriate uses of vocabulary words and phrases.
The official farewell lunch was yesterday (lunch at a new Thai restaurant), but today we decided to go to Time for Thai, where I first experienced Thai cuisine and perhaps my favorite lunchtime haunt since. Lauren and Priyanka were keen to try something new, but not I. Green curry with chicken – is there anything else? I believe that makes four times in the last eight days…probably a record of some sort (I know it is for me anyway). Delicious!
The afternoon breezed by and before I knew it, it was time for the official goodbyes that had been talked about with much dismay for the last week. Even after only eleven weeks (only eleven weeks!), it will be odd not to be heading to work on Monday morning. It really has been a learning experience, not only in an academic sense but also in the sense of building new, meaningful friendships (and even acquaintanceships) along the way. I’ve learned so much from all of them, and they too have learned some from me (particularly about imported American food and Amish, a new favorite topic). So as much as I am looking forward to escaping Sydney to see more of this amazing country, this group of people has become a security blanket in some ways, and the goodbyes come with a tinge of bitter-sweetness. As I write this, I am sitting on my bed, nearly in awe that all of the possessions that were scattered about my room only a few days ago are now packed in two backpacks. Oh, the joys and sorrows of moving on. But “Onward” I say…to the West coast! It’s time!