Overseas Students' Week 1960: The Columbo Plan brought many international students. By the early 1960s, they formed a significant part of the student body.This is the fourth and final of a short series telling you a little of the story of the wives and children of the New England University College.
This last column in my present series focuses on the siblings, the children of the early
I don’t know when this word first emerged, but it does capture one element of
life, the interaction between children linked though their parents. There
weren’t a lot of us; we were of differing ages and of different interests; but
many of the links created survive to this day. University
Life wasn’t always easy for the siblings. This was an intensely local world. We were new fish in a still small pond, the children of academics. This sometimes created expectations at school that we would, somehow, be brighter than average, expectations that I resented.
We also had to navigate our way through the social structures of life in Armidale and the broader
England beyond. This was a complex stratified world with varying
interests and connections. How were we to fit in? What did we talk about to
people whose backgrounds were so different to ours?
We managed as best we could, with varying degrees of success.
Our immediate world may have been intensely local, but it was also international in a way that is less true today, despite easier travel and greater media coverage.
seemed and was remote. Our connections were more global. Sydney
In some ways, it was a remarkably privileged world, one that I have struggled many times to explain.
We had access to very good education for the time, with many of us following the same route from the Misses Coopers’ Kindergarten through Armidale Demonstration School or Ben Venue, both demonstration schools, to Armidale High or sometimes TAS for the boys and then to university. Many of us met people and had access to experiences that were not available to most Australians.
In my own little world, I sat and listened to the political and economic arguments about decentralisation, about state and national politics. I listened to intellectual debates on academic and cultural topics. I listened to discussions about the events in the
or young University. There were books, papers and current periodicals everywhere..
Then there were the visitors who had to be entertained at home in the absence of local restaurants. I was allowed to sit in on the early parts of dinner and to ask questions. I met people such as Spanish intellectual Salvador de Madariaga or the Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal who was a particular favourite of my father’s.
We also mixed with students and staff, including the growing number of overseas students and young staff who came to
the Columbo Plan. This introduced many of us to new foods and cultures. Australia
In all, it was a remarkably rich if sometimes difficult experience, one unique to a particular place at a particular time.
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 24 October 2018. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not all on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited/History Matters columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016, here 2017, here 2018.