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Term 2
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Chapter 7:  The Ballad of Aadan and Kadeer

Second Term

Over the school holidays, the events of my first term back at school keep circling, popping up as I’m tying my son’s shoelaces or doing a supermarket run. The easy assumptions I’d made aren’t holding. There I was, holding an idea in my mind – High School, the Manufacturer of New Australians – as I […]

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Chapter 8: My Uncles, and Steve Jobs

Early June, 2 degrees Celsius. I half-freeze on the way to school. The wind has blown Melbourne’s omnipresent gloom away, and left that rare thing – a clear-blue sky. Pale sun, the city, hazy in the distance, new towers rising. Only the hardcore lycra-clad on their bikes today, leaving clouds of steam with every breath. […]

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Chapter 9: Sir, White People are Weird

“Oh, these girls how they talk,” says Aadan. “Even worse than old women.” He mimes gossiping with his hands. I’ve arrived mid-roast, and Aadan is keen to land a strike. “This one is silent and dangerous,” he says, pointing at Michelle. “She won’t talk, she’ll just hit.” This one is half-talk, half-fight, he says, pointing […]

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Chapter 10: The Bait on the Hook

I’m drinking tea in the common room one lunchtime when the careers counsellor pops his head round the corner. He scans the room but can’t find the student he’s after. We get talking, and he tells me it’s a hard sell to pitch VCAL, the vocational stream for Year 11s and 12s, to migrant parents. […]

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Chapter 11: Just Passing Through

Exam week arrives in early June. The year moves on at speed. Stark blue skies, that sense of openness when Melbourne’s omnipresent winter clouds are blown clear, when there’s a break from the cold streaming up from the Southern Ocean. The corridors of the school are full of stressed Year 11s and 12s. The younger […]

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Chapter 12: Between Worlds

Bleak City, Sydneysiders call us. And they’re not wholly wrong. Bad lighting, omnipresent cloud cover, grey half the year, sideways rain. That drabness that hides the quiet beauty of gardens and old vine-covered brick walls, treelined streets and alleyways. I step over a drowned worm in a storm drain, half flattened, and hasten towards the […]

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