tour by US students to Australia
In June 2010 Jason and I (lecturers at the National Institute of Sports Studies, University of Canberra) became tour leaders for the inaugural ‘Australian Sporting Industry Tour’. The tour, promoted by the Australearn organisation in the US, was of three weeks duration with a week in Melbourne, Canberra and Broadbeach (Queensland) locations. Seventeen US students ranging from 1st through to 4th years (13 women and 4 guys) and from a range of colleges and universities in the US made the trip. The majority were from sport science related areas of kinesiology/health science/dietetics whilst two came from marketing courses and two from psychology. Whilst there was plenty of information sent to the students several emails were received before their departure from the US asking questions such as ‘do I have to bring towels and bedding’ to ‘can I opt out of the physical activities when we stay at the Australian Sport Commission as I have just had a shoulder reconstruction?’ Some good questions, hey, how could they know what to expect – it was a big step into the unknown. A small assignment completed before they left home asked them what they knew about sport in Australia. Some of the students were reasonably well informed in some areas of sport while others had little knowledge of Australia or of Australian sport. For our part, Jason and I pondered what their expectations might be and possible problems, sure we would show them the Melbourne Cricket Ground, ETIHAD stadium, take them to an AFL game, the National Sport Museum and Rod Laver Arena but Australia didn’t have huge college campuses with numerous facilities and spectator support that rivalled professional sport. Having shown them our best, first up, would they be underwhelmed for the remaining two weeks? Then there was the question of liquor, these young people were not allowed to drink at bars or clubs in the US until they were 21 years of age, how would they respond given free rein in Australia? Jeez I was beginning to think and feel like a parent!
The remaining two weeks flew. Everyone appreciated their 3 day stay at the AIS, the professionalism, skills and knowledge they were privy to. The accommodation and regimentation of the AIS was rather a shock after the comfortable apartments and flexibility of Melbourne – they had been delivered into an entirely different world. Some serious academic work was accomplished whilst in Canberra, with several lectures at the AIS and UC, with the students working on their major project proposals.
One of the highlights of the week was a visit to Tidbinbilla where they learnt how to play cricket – ‘in the bush with the Kangaroos as spectators’, as one student put it.
Broadbeach and Surfers with its holiday atmosphere was a great place to end the trip. The group surfed at surfers one afternoon but the surfing Gods had gone to another beach that day. Waves coming in at forty-five degrees, a strong rip taking us along the beach and rain and cold weren’t the best introduction to a new sport. Every one had a go and a few managed to stand up ‘now I can say I have surfed in Australia’ said one female student. The Surf Life Saving (SLA) representative gave us a talk about the organisation’s role and there was some surprise at the size of the SLA and the many competitive meets they have - a culture in itself. Snorkelling at Moreton Bay was also undertaken, again, a first for many of the students along with sand boarding. Sand boarding was for many one of the highlights with some amusing wipe outs on the large dune.
Was the tour a success for the students – undoubtedly yes? The students were a delight to be with and I learnt so much. A special thanks to Jason Washington King, my colleague and fellow tour leader, whose energy and enthusiasm over the entire duration of the tour was awesome.