Opinion

OPINION: It's time we replace the B word with the F word

I WANT to tell you about some of the kind things my friends have done. 

Why? Because it's not often enough that we talk about these things, and talk about the kindness that lives right here in our community. 

I'm hoping it might inspire others to share their tales, too. 

Just last week my friends and I were having getting set for a barbecue at the beach. I realised I'd left my bank card home when we got to the check-out. 

Without a single second of hesitation, my friend pulled some money out of his wallet, looked at me and said "don't worry, I've got this".

Sometimes, my friends have cooked me dinner and made me special treats just to surprise me. 

I have a couple of friends who call me every few days just to check how my day has been, just to make sure I am well and chat about life. 

Last summer, I was a mess after my beautiful dog died after 13 years.

A friend of mine heard this and told me not to worry, he'd be over to dig the grave so that I didn't have to, and that it didn't matter if the ground was rock hard, he'd get it done for me so I could grieve.

Then he told me he wanted to be there for my little dog's burial, and he offered me a shoulder to lean on when I felt sad. 

My friends know I love dogs, and that's why one of my friends - who is quite the artist - drew me a beautiful picture of my other little dog. 

I helped one friend out with a few things and in gratitude, his sister bought me some beautiful gifts because she was so thankful. 

Recently I had to undergo surgery, and again, my friends were there for me when I couldn't drive and when I needed cheering up. 

Now what if I were to say these friends all had one thing in common? That's right - they're backpackers. 

These are the same people who tell me they face mockery, abuse and regularly being pelted with eggs from moving cars in our city. 

This makes me sad. 

Many people complain that backpackers are taking jobs or just plain want to pick on them because they're ignorant and don't understand that other cultures are not all that different to ours at the end of the day. 

Perhaps some think it's easy to get away with mistreating them or laughing about them because they're from a far away place. 

I've been in contact with a lot of backpackers over the last few years through helping them to learn English and I'm so glad for the chance to meet some amazing people.

I'm grateful for the fun moments, the kindness, the chats and the ways in which I've been able to travel the entire world right here in our city. 

We should never think badly of the fact we have a strong backpacker population, because they are just as much a part of us as we are of them. 

They are an asset. They are some of the threads in the fabric of who we are. 

If they are here for three months, 12 months or two years, they are part of our community for that time.

They're not outsiders - they are part of Bundaberg and they are part of our culture with so much to share. 

When we use the word "backpacker", we turn foreign workers into the "other". 

We become the norm because we're making something else abnormal. 

Perhaps the word "backpackers" is out of date, perhaps it's time for a new word. 

Friends, perhaps?

Topics:  backpackers bundaberg opinion



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