Greg (Barkindji) recalls his first exposure to the Korin Gamadji Institue (KGI) with a blend of fondness and memories of apprehension.
For Greg, the 2016 trip not only marked his first KGI program, but also his first visit to Melbourne, after growing up in Mildura.
“The first time I went to KGI was the first time I ever went to Melbourne, so that was pretty scary,” Greg recalled.
“Being a country boy, I did not know how I was going to go.”
However, Greg’s apprehension was swiftly put at ease as the similarities he shared with the other KGI participants promptly became apparent.
“People had come together from other places like Shepparton and Gippsland and within 30 seconds I felt comfortable,” he said.
“I loved how culturally strong all the games we played were, that’s what brought me back.
“I made friends that I would have never even talked to without KGI.”
Greg also recounts how the KGI program helped him appreciate that there were others that shared his experiences of struggle as a young Indigenous Australian.
“A lot of people do not understand how hard it is to be a young black man today and KGI has helped me with leadership and to show me that I can be something else other than the stereotypes put on us today,” he said.
While Greg has reaped the benefits of participating in a KGI program, he is aware that there are many others in his community that could similarly benefit from the program.
“With KGI setting up in Mildura, they are really going to be able to make a change in this community,” he said.
“What KGI has done for me and a lot of other people is really what Mildura needs.”