Rahamim is proud to welcome our first intern, Juliet Talarico!
Juliet is working with the education team and living on site at Rahamim having recently graduated in ecology and engaging in a range of exciting volunteer experiences around Australia and internationally.
Juliet has already given workshops in schools, created her own learning resources, made a very effective natural deodorant, helped with catering and established many permaculture projects around the grounds!
We interviewed Juliet to share her inspiring story which includes a strong Mercy influence.
Tell us about your Mercy story. What experiences of Mercy influenced you in the past?
As a first generation Australian, I began my Mercy journey when I started school at Our Lady of Mercy College in Melbourne. Although I was not particularly involved in high school, I believe that my Mercy education instilled in me the values of compassion, charity, and hospitality. After graduating, I wanted to continue my affiliation with Mercy and community service and did so with a group called Young Mercy Links. I volunteered at women’s shelters and engaged with people of refugee status, and victims of domestic and substance abuse. Most recently I embarked on an immersion to Cambodia where I attended a workshop on refugees and assisted in building a house for land-mine victims.
What is your background in ecology and how did it influence your life?
I have always had a love for animals which has now flourished into a love for the environment and conservation. In Melbourne I studied a Bachelor of Biological Science and majored in ecology which taught me the interrelatedness of all beings. I was motivated to get as much experience in the field as I could and have volunteered with Tasmanian Devils, turtle rescue on the Great Barrier Reef and worked for the Murray-Darling Basin. I have seen the needs of our degrading earth and this has provoked me to live more sustainably which I do through eating a vegan diet and living plastic-free and minimally.
What do you hope to get out of this internship and what drew you to Rahamim?
In 2018 I attended Rahamim’s Rainforest Reawakening Retreat in Cairns and was left feeling inspired and wanting to explore my own eco-spirituality. I was drawn to Rahamim and how they intertwined the concepts of environmentalism and social justice. I felt a strong sense of comradery among my peers as we all shared a passion for nurturing earth and being custodians of our land. I also appreciated the emphasis Rahamim had on nurturing our relationship with aboriginal elders and the Yirrganydji people of Cairns. During the retreat the Eco-education Coordinator, Sally Neaves, and I discussed the potential for me to come to Bathurst as I felt that I wanted to contribute my own skills and training in social and eco-justice to the works of Rahamim.
Tell us about your first week as a Rahamim intern…
I have been learning so much from my colleagues and in my first week I have assisted in re-establishing their permaculture garden and taken on the duties associated with this (watering, weeding, general maintenance, etc.). I also visited James Sheahan Catholic High School in Orange with Sally and I spoke about my journey of environmentalism and how this was guided by the Mercy charism. I have assisted with the planning of a ritual ceremony and helped Hospitality Coordinator, Alicia Colley, with catering. I have also contributed a recipe on how to make your own natural deodorant so look out for the next newsletter!
What are your goals while you’re at Rahamim?
I recognise that my passion for ecology goes far beyond the physical realm and I want to gain a better understanding of spiritual ecology and incorporate these practices into my life. In this three-month internship I would like to develop my knowledge on permaculture and holistic approaches to productive ecosystems. I am being mentored by Sustainability Educator, Jen Ringbauer, and would like to re-establish several of our gardening spaces.
Furthermore, working alongside Online Educator, Ana Freeman, I would like to develop an online platform for young people interested in environmental sustainability and eco-spirituality. This platform will be a means for communication and support among environmentalists and to learn what impacts people are making in their community. Ultimately, through conversation and sharing, this will aim to spark constructivism and the progression of our society.
What are your long-term goals?
One of my long-term goals is to facilitate action and establish a world where humans, animals, and plants can all live in harmony. To help people awaken to the idea that humans are not the dominant species on earth and that we need to learn to coexist with other beings, not out compete them. This needs to be done via education and thinking critically about our compliance to consumerism and societal norms.
What keeps you motivated and helps you to maintain momentum?
Catherine McAuley taught us about stewardship and equality and that is how I approach our environmental challenge. Each day I make an effort to acknowledge the beauty and uniqueness of the nature around me and by doing so gives me the motivation to preserve them. I have much empathy for disrupted ecosystems and the animals that live within them, as it is not their fault that they are struggling to survive, and I feel a responsibility to help them.
I also find it extremely helpful to surround myself with people who appreciate the natural beauties of earth just as much as I do. I have created a network for myself where I can go to these people in times of despair to give me extra motivation and inspiration.
Can you tell us about a person that you find inspiring and influential in your own life?
A figure who has influenced my perception of Mercy and Justice is Australian Buddhist nun, eco-activist and feminist, Ayya Yeshe. She found her calling in the slums of India and founded the Bodhicitta Foundation. Alike the mission of Catherine McAuley, Yeshe devotes her time working with vulnerable women and poverty-stricken communities to create a space of equality, dignity and opportunity. She empowers women and children through education, human rights and mental and physical wellbeing. Yeshe believes that this enables women to “reach beyond boundaries of race, class and gender” and in turn, overcome oppression, domestic violence, disease and child miscarriage.
Yeshe influences my perception surrounding Mercy and Justice because she highlights the importance of seeing the pain of our world in the equation for finding solutions. She humbly preaches that, “By not facing the wounds, are we also missing out on the healing?” Pain is a form of aliveness that we must see and understand and, by doing so, pain can transform into strength and power. Furthermore, Yeshe intertwines the principles of humanitarianism and environmentalism and fully embodies what it means to be a custodian of the earth. By reflecting on Yeshe’s work I have focused on my own community to encourage people to see the anguish of our earth and manifest this into constructive ways to make tangible change.