Culture //

Now and then: Half a decade with AIME

Alicia Johnson on her journey with AIME.

My journey with AIME has been an extensive one. It takes me back many chapters to my high school days at Dulwich Hill. I was busy mucking around with my cousin, sitting in my black and white polo and black school shoes while we waited for some people to come and speak to us about a new program running in the area. Then, in walked two cool-looking dudes, grinning.

It was this moment when I began my relationship with AIME. I remember loving the sessions as a mentee and always looking forward to Thursdays. My experiences on the program were always so positive and I connected well with the other kids, because they were experiencing similar things to me. Every mentoring session, we would focus on a particular topic, such as ‘respect’. We would not only learn about the concept of respect, but also receive encouragement to take the term and apply it to other aspects of our lives, such as our student-teachers relationships. As you can imagine, this was an interesting experience for a bunch of cheeky 15-year-olds.

It was experiences like these that pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me to develop an appreciation for the values that have helped shape me into the woman I am today.

Fast forward a few years, and suddenly, I’m signing up to be a mentor at AIME. It was so surreal to be sitting next to an Aboriginal girl in her school uniform and black school shoes, just like I was not too long ago – surreal, but amazing! I have taken on this role with the greatest sense of responsibility, as I know how influential and important a mentor can be. That experience will be the same for anyone who is interested in becoming a part of the AIME program, because as a mentor you really do have the opportunity to influence these kids in really positive ways. For many of them, this is their first experience with non-Indigenous Australia and it is so important and amazing that these kids get to do so in such a safe and positive environment like the one provided by AIME.

This year, I applied for a job at AIME as a Casual National Presenter… and I was selected! I am so excited about being in this role, because now, I am lucky enough to experience what AIME has to offer from all three perspectives: as a mentee, a giving back as a mentor, and now finally, spreading the word as a presenter. I have been given the chance to show these kids that their dreams can be achieved and that all of us here at AIME will stand alongside them every step of the way – just like AIME did for me all those years ago.