Summer Reading

My summer reading was of a book called “Traveler’s Tales Australia” which is a compilation of short stories written by travelers.

 

Assignment:

1) What did you find particularly interesting about this piece?  Cite 4-6 interesting points from the readings.  These could be quotations, incidents, or other places in the text about which you are prepared to speak for a few minutes, together with 2-4 lines of your thoughts explaining why they are interesting.  If possible, try to identify points that have a connection to sustainability.  For example, a story might help to explain why aboriginal people might treat the earth differently.

2)  What was your overall reaction to the selection?  Be as specific as possible and avoid over-generalizing.  You could focus on language, sound patterns, structure, characters, style, plot, allusions, or any combination of these and other topics.  Do not simply focus on your like/dislike of the reading; delve into the reasons for such a reaction.  The reaction should range from 100-250 words.

3) Come up with two questions that will provoke discussion about the piece.  These questions must be phrased so that the answer is not merely a fact or detail, but rather will lead to discussion.

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“Thirst” by Roff Martin Smith pg. 291

1.  The author of this story shares the details of his adventures biking in Australia.  He shares the adventure by creating journal entries each day.  In these logs, he describes the rough conditions of his travel by describing the landscape and weather and how it affects his ride.  He also shares the interactions he has with others along his travels.  These interactions happen when he stops for provisions of water.  From basic survival knowledge and details from the author’s description, the reader can gather that water is an essential part of his ride.  He has to calculate the distance to each stopping point.  At each location, he learns the price of water, which seems to vary based on location and weather conditions.  When rain was predicted, water was cheap.  Otherwise, in hot, deserted areas, water by the bottle cost more.  This makes the reader very aware of resources and of sustainable practices.  I have previous information informing me that Australians are very sustainable with their practices in consuming water.  The main ways it is reserved is by consciously limiting household use in showering and watering lawns.  I think this story highlights the reason for sustainable water practices, which is that it is a basic need of human life.  Without access to the bottled water, this bike rider would not survive his voyage.

2.  I had a different type of reaction to this story.  This was because I did not relate my anticipated traveling experience to this story because I don’t plan on a long bike travel while studying abroad.  However, I enjoyed reading about his adventures through a diary style where he described each day.  The details from each day were recorded in a short paragraph describing weather, distance traveled, distance to go, thoughts and feelings, and interactions with people.  These were interesting because they varied from day to day.  I was immediately impressed by the distance he has traveled and the distance he will continue to travel.  He traveled an average of 100 miles a day in 100-degree weather.  The traveling forced him to think about getting water in order to survive.  I think the daily journal was the most effective way of sharing the information with the reader in a way that makes you feel like you are riding with him.  This gave me a strong sense of the ride.  The rider also gave detail to some of the Australian culture by sharing experiences of interactions with locals.  The interactions in the diners showed the relationship with locals.  Some experiences were positive and somewhere negative.  Overall, this story gave incite to many different aspects of Australian life.

3.  The rider character’s details in this story were not clearly explained.  The plot of the story made me wonder what he was doing traveling by road bike.  The ending of the story was also a cliffhanger leaving me wondering how he will respond to the scenario he is left with.  I predict that he will take the offer and rest up before continuing his adventure on bike.  I also wonder if this is a man who has faced a difficult living situation and has been forced to ride or if he is traveling this way by choice.  That makes me wonder about the larger society and how many people have a similar lifestyle to this author.

“Bedrock City” By Joanne Meszoly pg 141

1.  Originally, I knew very little about the precious gem, opal.  I would probably be able to recognize it on jewelry, however I do not know much about the gem itself or mining process.  This short story described the history of opal in Australia, specifically in Coober Pedy, Australia.  Here, the economy runs on opal mining and trade.  This story highlights both processes.  The mining in caves is described in detail as the author had the experience to go into a cave.  The trading in town is described through the market experience in the town center with tourists and locals.   I enjoyed understanding the experience through the author’s narration and I also found the side note interesting.  Here, the gem was described in a scientific way.  This creates a great addition to the short story by relating opal’s physical characteristics to a beauty that can be profitable.  Sustainability is most likely practiced when mining for the gem.  While the mine digs into the Earth, people do not wish to ruin the features of the land.  Mines are carefully built, excavated, and closed.  This mining town survives because of the land; therefore, the resource is sacred and needs to be sustainably mined.

2.  I believe this short story stood out to me most because of a recent conversation that I had with a friend.  He had previously traveled to Australia on a teen tour and shared a few of his own stories.  One of the details he shared was of gifts that he got for friends and family back at home.  He shared his experience buying a friend an expensive opal necklace.  He prided himself on this purchase because the gift represented a unique mining area in Australia.   This story highlighted how special opal is to the country, not just as a present.  Behind the beautiful gem is a mining process and trading, attributing to its value.  I enjoyed reading this story and relating both experiences.

3.  Is this country’s land one of the few places that opal is mined?  Is there a difference in pricing value of opal in Australia compared to the United States?

“Speak Oz” by Tim Cahill pg 71

1.  When learning a foreign language you need to know the vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure, and tones in order to be fluent.  The Australian language is English.  However, with its unique dialect, it can make it seem like a foreign language.  I was aware that the Australian language consists of a great deal of slang terms that are unfamiliar.  I found it interesting how language can change ones perception.  The author quickly introduced these differences in language by sharing his experience with his trip to Australia.  I found it most interesting to learn from his research of the language.  He said, “what is unique about Australian English derives from the flash talk of transported criminals, and rhyming slang” (pg 72).  This gives the reader information about the roots of the language.  The author also defines terms based on his experiences.  This story did not related to sustainability but showed a perspective into the culture.

2. I recently researched Australian slang and went through a list of popular terms.  These terms are used in Australian conversation.  Many of the terms in this story were new to me.  This was demonstrated in the first page of the reading.  The author incorporated the terms to highlight the differences of the language.  The different terms are replaced in the sentence.  This allows a reader, or listener, to interpret a term’s meaning, without really knowing the true definition.  Out of context, I believe that it would be difficult to know what the slang terms mean.  I enjoyed reading the slang through the authors words based on experiences.  The author explained the meanings of terms such as bastard, bloody, and flaming.  The terms can all be found in the Macquarie Dictionary.   However, the author’s experiences with the terms make for a story as he wrote here.

3.  I am curious how long it will take me, as a student traveling, to understand most Australian dialogue.  I am curious about how I will learn each term.  There are a lot of inherent questions with this: will I pick up terms from dialogue with locals or reading signs?  Will I learn use these terms in natural conversation or will I feel like a foreigner?  Will locals be friendly about teaching and answering questions or should I research more words to become familiar?  I am also curious about regional accents.  As with any language, accents vary by region and education.  Do these terms vary within the Australian society?  I believe I will learn these answers shortly after arriving to the country.

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