Sam Watson and the Serendipitous ways of the World

A Serendipitous encounter with Sam Watson

Dictionary result for serendipitous

/ˌsɛr(ə)nˈdɪpɪtəs/
adjective
  1. occurring or discovered by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
    “a serendipitous encounter”
Sam Watson
Sam Watson

Meet Sam Watson

As a blogger, I am always on the lookout for interesting stories worth blogging about.  These can come about in the most random ways and meeting Sam Watson was one of these serendipitous encounters.

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.

 
So the story goes like this ….
  • 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:

Sam’s winning story was all about why he campaigned for same sex marriage while at school in Tasmania. Sam went to a catholic school in Devonport (20 mins from his home of Ulverstone) until year 10. He then moved to Hobart to The Friends’ School which is the only Quaker school in the Southern Hemisphere. It was here that he furthered his advocacy for same sex marriage.
 

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:

Students need a safe and supportive school environment if they are to reach their full potential. This includes knowing you won’t be expelled or treated unfairly because of something you have no control over, like sexual orientation or gender identity.

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.

You can see Sam’s story on Heywire here and this is a link to similar story about Sam, Campaigning for same sex marriage in a tiny town

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.

From what I understand, each year every ABC regional station selects a winning Heywire Competition entry to represent their part of Australia. The young winners then work with ABC staff to produce their story to be featured on ABC Radio and abc.net.au. Heywire stories are renowned for their honesty and for sharing the lives of young people in regional Australia. Source

Heywire Youth Summit in Canberra

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.

You can follow their progress on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

All information about Heywire has been sourced from Heywire: https://www.abc.net.au/heywire
 

Trailblazers

There are many great stories on their site and I recommend you take the time to have a look around. Also included in the Youth Summit, are a group of 18-28 year olds, called Trailblazers.  We were fortunate to meet Louise Blessington, a friendly young woman who also had a connection to our exchange students, as she had been a Rotary Exchange Student from Canberra to Turkey about 12 years ago.
 
This year 15 Trailblazers are discussing a range of issues that have impacted on their lives from racism through training, to mentoring refugee and migrant students and Louise’s project which is aimed at supporting youth who have lost a parent at a young age. You can read more about their inspiring stories here – Trailblazers bring their regional projects to the country’s capital

These youth are our future.

It was a great way to finish a weekend spent entirely working with youth – in a Rotary Youth Exchange capacity, and then meeting inspirational youth at this Heywire summit, was the icing on the cake.  We were privileged to be asked along by  members of the Rotary Club of Canberra East, who were serving the dinner, to see what it was all about.
 
I’m sure you’ll agree that it was indeed a serendipitous encounter with Sam!  Congratulations again to all Heywirers and the organisers of such a great project.  I’m sure everyone joins me in wishing them all well for the future. If Sam and Louise are anything to go by, we are all in safe hands with such passion and enthusiasm for changing the world for the better.
Chatting with Sam
Chatting with Sam

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!

Deb x

Meet Sam and Heywire

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16 Replies to “Sam Watson and the Serendipitous ways of the World”

  1. What an absolutely fabulous project that shines the limelight on the youth of our future and a serendipitous meeting indeed with Sam. I think this meeting was meant to be Deb and you’ve done a wonderful job here highlighting both the Heywire Project and Sam. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a breath of fresh air Deb and Sam is a wonderful role model for all younger people. I”m Over 60 but I still found his story interesting and inspiring. It must have been so difficult for him to come out especially in a Catholic School. I’m also surprised that he went to a Quaker school after that as I thought it would be rather strict? Thank you for introducing Sam and also the HeyWire program. You certainly get around and meet some interesting people. Have a great weekend. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you found Sam as inspiring as I did Sue. He was a real breath of fresh air and so enthusiastic. The Heywire program is a great way for regional youth to be heard and plan how they can change the world. It was so good to meet him and learn more about the project. I agree it was really surprising that he went to the Quaker school but he got his message across and was accepted so kudos to him and the school community. We are off home on the weekend so maybe I’ll sit still for a few weeks – but who knows?? Thanks for reading and commenting Sue, it’s always good to have you join in 😊

      Like

  3. Sam sounds like a fascinating person, and how brave must he have been to go through coming out and standing up in front of people at such an early age. Very inspirational. The world needs more people like Sam I think. Really interesting post Deb.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. An interesting meet-up Deb – and so nice that you could both connect and inspire each other. It’s strange how events co-incide and you meet people you would never have encountered otherwise. So glad you enjoyed meeting each other and encouraging each other’s journeys x

    Liked by 1 person

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