Posted by: thebluemusicblog | December 6, 2012

AUSTRALIA 4

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THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE BY DAY

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…….AND BY NIGHT

The Australian journey is slowly coming to an end. But first two major highlights, Sydney Opera House and Yarra Valley outside Melbourne. I feel a bit like a Kangaroo, up every morning to get to the airport and then jump to the next big city.

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Talking about Kangaroos, one of the great expectations of any first time travellers to these shores is to see a friendly, jumping, unique Kangaroo close up. That has not been an overwhelming success. The first three Kangaroos were sleeping in the grass under a tree close to the Governor’s mansion in Canberra, but 900 metres away.  The second pair of Kangaroos I saw were in Yarra Valley, this time jumping, but 600 metres away.

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PHILIP ON MANLY BEACH, WHICH IS HIS FAVORITE!

Philip is the CEO of Sydney YMCA and he is taking us through one of his YMCA centres, recently renovated and brought up to the 21st century standards. The YMCA is big in Sydney and branches and centres are spread out throughout this big, beautiful city around its harbour.

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MIKE, ONE OF THE VERY COMPETENT CENTRE MANAGERS IN SYDNEY

The visit to Sydney started a few weeks ago when David, the President of Sydney YMCA came to Geneva together with his wife. We had a good time together in the John R. Mott House and now David is our host in his city.

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Philip and David together with their lovely wives take us for dinner, overlooking the Opera House. We go walking in the late evening around the Opera and the fabulous city bridge, both landmark symbols of this impressive city.

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Philip shares a touching story with us. There is a place in the city where some people have found an easy way to end their lives by jumping from a cliff. For many years an elderly man was sitting there on a bench with tea and two cups. He just invited people for a cup of tea and shared some time with them. In this simple way of volunteerism this man saved hundreds of lives over the years.

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We are traveling on, and next day Ron, National CEO and Janet met us at the airport in Melbourne and take us to Yarra Valley outside the city.

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RON, INGUNN AND JANET IN YARRA VALLEY

It is a beautiful area of agriculture and vineyards and we get to taste some of the agricultural products of Australia and stay the night in a countryside mansion built by one of the founding fathers of the country.

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Peter, Victoria YMCA CEO and Maree are hosting us in the mansion and we enjoy the warm summer evening together with our Australian friends.

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THE GIANT IS STEPPING?  STARTING TO WAKE UP?

Next day we join the YMCA State Managers Session and both Ron and Peter and I are giving our inputs to the meeting and answering questions from the 130 YMCA leaders attending the meeting. I am especially happy when one of the participants explains how important the World Challenge had been and how well it had functioned at her local YMCA.

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After the meeting Ron and Peter and I continue our conversation and talk about future plans for cooperation. There is a growing openness for more active participation in the international agenda, both on Area and global levels.

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We all agree that the levels of YMCA, the local, national, area and global need to come closer together. We really have the same agenda  and we need to spend time together in order to outline future projects together. Recruitment of Change Agents and their Mentors is an issue both Peter and Ron are engaged in and we close the meeting with very exciting perspectives. The almost two weeks I have spent with my Australian colleagues have certainly given me a lot of new learning and brought me much closer to the realities of YMCA down under.  I can report that the YMCA is in good hands and under excellent leadership and good governance! Thank you, my friends!

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During the final barbeque in Peter and Maree’s great home outside Melbourne, their daughter and son Kate and Dylan share great stories with us from the  “Youth in government programmes” of Australian YMCAs, a programme where both of them play important roles. It makes me think that this is one programme that we need to reflect during our Change Agent training process.

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And finally, as the Australian summer embraces us in the garden and the smoke from the grill surrounds us, I come really close to a Kangaroo. I eat one!


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