A Serendipitous encounter with Sam Watson
Dictionary result for serendipitous
occurring or discovered by chance in a happy or beneficial way.“a serendipitous encounter”
Meet Sam Watson
Sam is one of the Winners of the ABC’s Heywire program and is a part of the Heywire Youth Summit in Canberra for the week. The group had arrived the day before, from all over Australia, and had a full schedule of events lined up. They were a vibrant, engaging and happy group and it was a real pleasure to talk to some of them. The group all enjoyed a segway tour around the lake and a casual low key dinner, provided by members of the local Rotary Club, who have been involved for several years.
- We’re in Canberra from Tumbarumba, at a Rotary Youth Exchange weekend with our 17 year old exchange daughter, Anna, from Hungary.
- Anna is to stay the night with Anouk her friend who is on exchange in Canberra from Switzerland.
- We are invited to attend an event where Anouk’s hosting Club, the Rotary Club of Canberra East, is catering.
- The event is part of the ABC’s Heywire Youth Summit, on the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin.
- Anna and Anouk help out with serving dinner and get talking to some of the Heywire participants.
- We join them and meet Sam and another friend whose name I didn’t catch.
- It was all about SAM!!
Sam is a force to be reckoned with and a real personality. He’s bright, friendly, engaging and fun! We click immediately and once he finds out I’m a blogger he is keen to be featured on my blog. The fact that I’m aimed at the more midlife aged reader doesn’t faze him, he just wants to get his story out there. He willingly shares his winning story with us and talks passionately about his entry. We both come from small towns in regional areas so can relate to the issues involved.
We swap social media stories and contacts and he seems impressed with my Deb’s World blog, my business card and my social media profiles!! Sam is a real character and a lot of fun to talk to. Between us both, we talk a million words a minute!
I learn, in a short amount of time, that he had just finished Year 12 in Tasmania last year, works for a Tasmanian politician in Hobart and has plans to do further study, maybe in medicine or politics and he’s a huge fan of fellow Tasmanian Hannah Gadsby. He was very keen for the exchange students to visit his home state! He’s very passionate about Tasmania.
As time was limited we immediately set about taking photos and he hams it up in the lovely Canberra evening light, with the concert at Stage 88 blasting away across the lake – performers Missy Higgins and John Butler seem an appropriate backdrop to our conversation.
Sam’s winning story:
In 2018 (in year 12) Sam was Head Boy and continued his involvement in politics. This year he is working full time for Senator Carol Brown – Shadow Minister for Disability and Carers (in Hobart) as a gap year type thing. He’ll then look to pursue medicine and possibly politics.
In Sam’s words: I came out as gay in Year 9 at a Tasmanian Catholic school. This wasn’t easy for me. It was only after my friends told me they already knew I was gay, that I felt comfortable admitting it to myself and saying it out aloud.
Some excerpts from Sam’s articles that show his passion and desire to improve the world he lives in:
The North-West Coast of Tasmania is well known for its views on homosexuality, in my home town of Ulverstone – once dubbed the ‘Most Homophobic Town in Australia’ – a lack of acceptance, public role models, or support services make you feel that you could truly be “the only gay in the village”. Hannah Gadsby, also from the coast, expressed the feelings of rural people and told our pain in her recent Nanette, which may have resonated around the world, but speaks so particularly to my personal experience of the North-West.
I have advocated for LGBTIQ+ support in schools and acted as the young spokesperson for Tasmanians United for Marriage Equality. Under different circumstances, I might still be in the closet. It is for this reason that I advocate for LGBTIQ+ youth, especially those living in rural Australia, because everyone should feel safe and supported.
What is Heywire?
I have to admit that although I had heard of Heywire, I wasn’t really sure of what they did. I soon found out that Heywire is a project that puts young Australians at the centre of the conversations that shape their communities.
The ABC has run the annual regional youth project in partnership with the Australian Government since 1998. You can read more here – About Heywire
The annual Heywire cycle begins with a storytelling competition – open to people aged 16-22, living in regional or rural Australia. Heywire encourages young people to tell stories about their life outside the major cities in text, photo, video or audio format. These stories include tackling racism, coping on the land in drought conditions, family issues, dealing with health problems, living with physical deformities, agricultural issues and many other important topics. These young adults are to be congratulated for their openness and their willingness to change their world.
Over the past 17 years more than 9,000 young Australians have taken part. Sam was chosen to share his story from his home in Tasmania.
Heywire Competition winners score an all-expenses-paid trip to the Heywire Summit, held in Canberra each February. This year 36 participants are working together in groups to develop ideas to make positive changes in their communities. It’s designed to ensure their voices are heard in Canberra and around the nation.
Over the week participants undertake leadership workshops and meet with members of parliament, government departments and community leaders. The ‘Heywirers’ work together in teams to develop ideas aimed at improving the lives of young people in regional Australia. The ideas are presented at Parliament House in front of an esteemed panel.
These youth are our future.
It’s been a great pleasure discovering this wonderful program and introducing Sam to you.
Feel free to leave a comment below, especially your thoughts on the Heywire project and say hello to Sam 🙂
I always enjoy hearing from you!
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