By Jemima, Year 9

‘Living on a farm,’ was how my peers might describe the eight-week phenomenon which we all cherished, although in reality there is so much more to it. Located a short speed boat ride from the hushed town of Mallacoota in East Gippsland, MLC Marshmead is a village of nine houses for Year 9 students to make themselves at home for a term. One might call it one of the landmark experiences of attending MLC, and often talked about for years after!
When we arrived, the roaming farm animals captivated our city-dwelling hearts. Hatching chicks, brazen alpacas, and content cows made for some memorable companions! The scope of nature and environment was so enticing to discover through the term: kayaking through rivers, hiking through hidden park ranges, and roaming on sand swept shores.
In the few seconds of waving Marshmead goodbye through the bus windows on our final morning, I thought that Marshmead had ended, but I gradually became aware of how wrong I had been. As I had experienced it during Term 1, I began to appreciate that three following terms of my fellow Year 9 students would embark on experiences that were similar to mine, yet still unique.
I wouldn’t be forgetting about Marshmead any time soon. When some of my friends were in the midst of packing for their own Marshmead experience, and would ask me questions such as, “would I be able to borrow your broad brimmed hat?” or, “do I really need to pack gum boots?” I enjoyed answering them, but mainly recalling the few days in which I wore my broad brimmed hat to the Lake Barracoota expedition I travelled on, or even wearing it one afternoon to mow the grass of ‘Pete’s Patch.’ These questions also sparked a memory of wearing my gumboots to tend to the poddy calf shed in the crisp early mornings. It also reminded me of lying in the fields and laughing with my house; gazing up into the open sky, lit with stars.
I believe every student can keep a very individual set of life lessons or progressive way of thinking. As a sustainable and off-the-grid campus, Marshmead instilled value in how we view our environmental footprint. It gave me the opportunity to research a range of varying renewable energy resources. Upon my return home I was encouraged to take more initiative, such as when I planned and lead an informative and hands on session at my sister’s Girl Guide unit. I was able to show the girls how to create ‘beeswax wraps;’ an alternative from using single use plastic wraps. This was my action plan. The beauty of Marshmead was that every girl carried out a different action plan relating to their newly discovered interests.
It is remarkable to see how enduring the constant connection to Marshmead has been since I have been back at school in Melbourne. The memory of Marshmead doesn’t just retire at gardening or bike riding. Marshmead reminds me of how I persisted with change and uncertainty in times of challenge. It reinforces that it is vital to enjoy each moment of life, and not to worry about the future. The prospect of Marshmead seemed so distant to me about six months ago. Much has changed since then!