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The Roadtrip Experience Is One That I Wouldnt Trade For Anything

The Roadtrip Experience Is One That I Wouldnt Trade For Anything

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'Last year, I got a spontaneous Facebook message from someone I didn't know called Manal. It was clearly a ‘mass message’, but it talked of something compelling: an experience known as the Movement to End Poverty Roadtrip.

After reading, I still didn't know too much about this Roadtrip. Yeah, I understood that there’d be a thousand of young people, taking action together to fight poverty. I understood that we were going to be asking our government to honour its commitments to aid the world’s poor. I understood the whole thing was part of a weeklong journey with lots of stops in various towns along the way.

It sounded good, but the whole thing still seemed fairly shrouded in mystery. Still, I thought - maybe I'll give this a go. It sounds like something I might be into. Why not?

That's how I found myself walking into an quiet upstairs cafe at Adelaide uni into a room full of people I mostly didn’t know, sitting in rows listening to a speaker. Oaktree volunteers were guiding us fresh-faced Roadtrip Ambassadors in three learning sessions of the ins and outs of Australia’s foreign aid program, so that we’d be more confident talking to Australians and politicians about what we’re doing well at as a country and what we can do better.

I was glad for this session because although I care about ending poverty, I didn’t know too many facts about it then. I was also interested to see lots of different people gathered in the room. There were some Ambassadors who seemed shy, some who were confident and chimed in with lots of answers, some from high school and some from uni. I didn’t know anyone but one person (who wasn’t sitting near me and I spotted later), but people were friendly and I got chatting to Lachlan who was in the chair next to me. He was a year 12 student studying drama, and this was his first Roadtrip too. (Lachlan ended up being on the other SA bus and by the end of the week, had complimented MP Sarah-Hanson Young on her eyes and whipped out some fantastic moves at the Canberra dance party. He was good value, and his friendliness also set the tone for how everyone was all Roadtrip- just really damn nice).

Fast-forward. I’m lugging too many bags across the grass of a local SA high school on a chilly morning, a bit nervous and filled with anticipation. It’s Roadtrip Day 1. Familiar Oaktree staff greet me inside, and I get my Ambassador t-shirt and lanyard. I’m wearing the dress I’m bringing on the trip for MP meetings (trying not to wrinkle it), because we’re doing some mysterious public stunt the next day. 

I feel a little awkward around all these mostly new people but I know too that that’s okay- I know that’s how many of the best experiences start. And so far, people seem good. Later, Roadtrip leaders Kate and Emily do an speech to rally us all. 

The next day, I am coaxed out of my comfort zone. I don’t realise yet but it won’t be the last time it happens. I also don’t realise how much being challenged like this will change me, infinitely for the better.

The rest of the Roadtrip is now snapshots of different moments in my mind. Dance sessions and singalongs on the bus. Speeches from fascinating campaigning experts. Listening to bands on grassy lawns (and dancing to Evermore in Melbourne town hall). Campaigning at Parliament House. Shared mealtimes and delirious late night chats with people who I find myself talking to about topics that I don’t often chat about, because people back home aren’t always interested in some of the things I care deeply about- but these people are. Ultimatley, these people want to change the world too. 

I can’t describe how valuable it is to spend time with people like that. People who’ll draw your passion out and feed it with their own. Those people are everywhere on the Roadtrip. The Roadtrip experience is different things to different people, but for me it a big part was finding the people who shared my passions and who I really believed I would change the world with.

One of my final snapshots is being on the bus home from Canberra. Our friendly-but-still-relatively-aloof bus driver for the week surprised us all and took the bus microphone, making a point to say that older people needed us and that we WOULD be the generation that changed things and ended extreme poverty.

I agreed with him. 

The Roadtrip experience is one that I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

I’m SO keen to do it again this September- at a time when many of the world’s most powerful leaders will be in Australia for the G20 summit. It’s an incredible opportunity to take action. 

I can’t wait.