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The mentor gains the most.

This edition featured many youthful, more agile, less calloused hands snatching the reins and creating the newspaper. In doing so, they were initially guided by some passionate old(er) storytellers.

Jun 19, 2023

Words: Gippslandia

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Contrary to popular belief, Gippslandia doesn’t materialise from the lenticular clouds above Mt Baw Baw somewhere during the evening of every third full moon.

Rather, it's the work of many hands.

While this edition featured many youthful, more agile, less calloused hands snatching the reins and creating the newspaper, they were initially guided by some passionate old(er) storytellers.

This was part of the magic for this edition, and Regional Arts Victoria (RAV) Future Reset Project: the Gippslandia Mentorship Program as a whole. We had a selection of generous mentors from the Gippslandia family keen to share their knowledge and a collection of talented mentees eager to soak these insights up. Without question, both parties benefited from this dynamic – as you’ll hear from the mentors’ insights below.

We hope this may encourage you to initiate a mentorship/internship program of your own. Gippsland’s next generation is tack sharp and, from our recent experience, will thrive in whatever challenge you throw at them.

“...I forgot how bloody cool young people are.”

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Thank you to all the wonderful mentees, the wise mentors – Angharad Neal-Williams, Emma Hearnes, Joh Lyons, Lauren Murphy, Michael Duncan, Shelley Banders and Tim Leeson – and a special thanks to RAV Future Reset Coordinator Stephanie Clark for guiding enthusiastic discourse on snacks, teaching us how to play music through Zoom and ensuring the program ran smoothly.

At the close of the RAV and Gippslandia Mentorship Program, we asked the mentors: What surprised you during your time mentoring?

Angharad: I was surprised by their incredible enthusiasm, curiosity and willingness to try new techniques and respond to feedback. Their ability to come up with concepts and follow through from a draft to a final piece within the deadline – alongside their schooling and other work commitments – was amazing!

Emma: This shouldn't have come as a surprise, but I forgot how bloody cool young people are. This mentorship ended up being as much of an opportunity for the Gippslandia team as it was for the mentees. Under the weight of tight deadlines and Gippslandia’s business development, it is easy for us to lose our spark – but the quality of ideas and the genuine input and feedback from these young people reinvigorated us, and future editions will benefit!

Joh: I found the range of ideas and the competence of the young creatives inspiring. It was energising to be with all involved.

Lauren: Being a mentor in the program surprisingly connected me back with why I started photography and my interest in storytelling. It was inspiring to see a younger generation passionate about their local area, and their drive to ensure voices are being heard and documented in print.

Michael: The eagerness to just ‘make it happen’ [surprised me]. Our mentees haven’t yet spent years studying or in the workforce learning 'what won’t work'; as a result, they show no fear. They’re bold and, in being that way, they challenge accepted norms. They turn the ‘why’ into ‘why not?’. I feel that I was like that once; I’d like to be more like that now. As is the way with these things, it’s the mentor that gains the most.

Shelley: The youth takeover of #30 should serve as a left hook to any trepidations we may have for the future of our region and beyond. The next generation of Gippslandians are leading with heart, depth and sensitivity. They are raising their voices, finding their people, asking the right questions and challenging the status quo.

They’re smart. Watch out.

Tim: This project was all about taking a plunge. We really didn’t know what would eventuate on these pages, but we had a hunch. Twenty editions ago, we embarked on our first issue filled with storytelling created by young Gippslandians – it blew us away. This issue, we’ve relinquished control even further, and the level of vulnerability, honesty and personality in these stories has left me mightily impressed!

Stephanie: RAV’s Future Reset Project, the Gippslandia Mentorship Program, was a success because of the way people uniquely showed up. Mentors and mentees arrived with passion in hand, listening, asking questions where needed, learning from what was shared and encouraging each other to be better. Everyone involved in the program is passionate about words and art, and about seeing unique perspectives shine through. It all comes down to people and passion, and how lucky we are to have been immersed in it.

Gippslandia - Issue No. 30

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