Isabel Robinson, as told to Josh Solomonsz
I first went to Papua New Guinea when I was 19. Before then, I had lived a somewhat sheltered life – I grew up in Middle Park, went to a private school in St Kilda, and my only overseas experience had been a school exchange to Tuscany in Year 10. I left school and started a Bachelor of Arts at Melbourne University, but after so many years of study, I think I was tired of the theoretical. I was reading all these articles about aid and development and environmental damage and globalisation, but had no practical experience of what this looked like. After a year and a half of Arts, I took a leave of absence and volunteered in PNG, where I was confronted with a reality very different from my own. Life in the villages was full of joy but also difficult, particularly for women. Women my age might already have several children and spend most of their time tending their gardens, cooking, cleaning and collecting water. I realised that travelling, going to university and pursuing a career was not, in fact, totally normal, but a privilege that I must use and use well.