BSSC Year 11 student, Lily Iredell, has plans to study acting and then become a performing arts teacher. On her way to achieving these goals she is enjoying studying subjects that indulge her passion for theatre and drama.

“Most universities offer Theatre Studies,” she says, “but it would be really cool to go to NIDA and then do a post-graduate education degree to prepare me for teaching.”

So, what is it about this career path that Lily finds so attractive?

“I really love drama because it gives me the opportunity to become hundreds of different people and explore human characteristics I wouldn’t experience on an everyday basis,” she says.

“When I was in Year 8 at Eaglehawk Secondary College I had a teacher who really helped me find my love for theatre. In taking up teaching, I want to help future drama students find a passion they can explore for a lifetime.”

Lily is clearly a talented drama student. She was involved in numerous college productions and by the time she was in Year 10, she was selected for the 2nd female lead in her 7-10 college performance of Hairspray. It was an experience that consolidated her love of drama.

It also made Lily confident about her subject choices as she prepared to come to BSSC. However, she was less sure about moving to a new college.

“I don’t really know why I was so stressed before I started at BSSC,” she reflects. “I think I saw it as a really big step that meant I needed to be quite grown up—and that felt a bit overwhelming.

“But I got here on that first day and saw some of the people I work with in my part-time job. I went over and said, ‘hi guys’ and we’ve been good friends ever since.”

Lily also quickly realised there were ‘heaps’ of things about BSSC she really enjoyed.

“Looking back, I think the best thing was the opportunity to choose from such a wide variety of subjects.”

Now very at home at BSSC, Lily is enjoying all her subjects, but Theatre Studies remains her favourite and Kirsten Thomas is another teacher who has deeply inspired her.

“She really engages us and is always supportive of everyone,” she explains.

But Lily admits that she initially found the amount of homework a bit of a shock and that she needed to quickly develop strategies to keep on top of it all.

“I think the most important thing in managing the workload is to prioritise,” she says. “I usually make sure I’m aware of what’s going to take the longest time; what marks something is worth and I keep tabs on due dates for required assignments. This has worked well for me.”

Recently the performing arts students attended a day-long workshop run by professional actors, Adele Querol and Jerome Meyer—something Lily loved being part of and learnt a lot from.

“I hadn’t attended any other workshops like that,” she says. “They really pushed us out of our comfort zones.

“We also have performers who are invited into the college for us to watch and write about for our assessments. That’s pretty amazing too.”

While a fair chunk of Lily’s week is taken up with her part-time job and the demands of VCE, she still has time to keep tabs on what is happening in the wider world.

She admits to avoiding ‘the news’—because so much of it is bad—but she hasn’t backed away from getting involved in an issue she feels very passionate about.

“I’m really concerned about the way we treat refugees,” Lily says. “The problem is so big now and I want to try to make a difference—even in some small way.

“As a country, I think we need to welcome more people into Australia and give them the resources they need to make a new start.

“I wonder if people who are unsupportive of refugees are more generally scared of the unknown or difference? I also think some media outlets present a really bad—and unfair—view of these people.”

Lily heard about ‘Act for Peace’, an organisation working with refugees that offers the ‘ration challenge’.

This challenge involves participants voluntarily living for a week off refugee rations—making it a very personal experience—and raising funds through sponsorship.

Lily decided to take the challenge and Act for Peace sent her a kit containing the typical week’s rations for someone in a refugee camp.

“I had 1.9kg of rice, 400g of flour, 170g of lentils, 85g of dried chickpeas, 400g of sardines (I substituted mine for tofu) and 300g of oil.”

Lily raised $1300 from her sponsors.

However, despite the good work being done worldwide by numerous non-government agencies and governments—and people like Lily—she feels that the refugee crisis will only worsen. The number of countries behaving in very threatening ways towards each other has undermined her hope of a speedy and effective answer to the crisis of people being forced to abandon their homes and towns.

Yet Lily is impressed by the small changes that everyday people are making to try and transform the world into a better place.

“Coles now has soft-plastics recycling bins, and McDonalds is about to get rid of plastic straws. That’s really big given that the average McDonalds restaurant would go through thousands and thousands of straws per day.”

The last few years have been a really intense and demanding time for Lily for a whole lot of reasons. Reflecting back over everything her challenges have taught her, she realises she has some good advice for her 12-year-old self—if only she could go back and pass it on.

I would say: “Take things as they come and know that things are going to get better!”