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Premier's Anzac Memorial Scholarship Guide (1 Viewer)

HazzRat

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Last year I got into the Premier's Anzac Memorial Scholarship, which is basically a free trip overseas for NSW history students. As applications have opened for this year, I'll be writing a rough guide on how to get in. To apply, you have to write a cracker 1,000-word essay on why you're the man for the job, as well as a solid personal statement from your school.

Disclaimer: I couldn't actually go cause they have this one annoying misplaced pre-tour meeting in the July school holidays, where you have to go to NSW Parliament to collect your uniform and shake Chris Minn's hand. I was in America then. But ngl if you make it into the scholarship just lie beforehand and say you can turn up to that day. Then ring up the night before and say you have appendicitis or something. It's not worth missing a trip to Singapore bankrolled by the state government for one silly meeting.

1) The essay. My best piece of advice here is to make it extra. For the essay, you'll be answering a series of questions such as "Why is history important?" and "Why do you want to be awarded the scholarship?" etc (or at least in the year I did it). Nearly every kid in the state will be writing a textbook, PEEL paragraph answer to these questions, possibly sounding way more academic than they need to be, and boring. So try to approach these from a different angle. With mine, I kept the theme of indigenous Australians and their history running throughout it, referring heavily to a school trip I went on to rural NSW in the winter year 10 holidays. This not only 1) glazed myself to show I was socially conscious and interested in aboriginal history but 2) provided a different perspective of the question, as indigenous history is more immanent within the land rather than the written, event-centric history of the Western world. Instead of answering the questions like you're told to write in the NSW syllabus, try to inject creative writing into your answers. Write it more like a US college application, in which they're told to make unique, highly individualised, and creative.

Here's the essay that got me in:
All my personal information is [redacted] so don't get any funny ideas. And also there were questions that I had to answer as part of the essay. That's why it kinda appears incoherant ramble. I can't find the specific ones I had to answer 🤷‍♂️ but just know they're there.

An arid landscape, sparse with the occasional desert shrub, was all that dwelled on the other side of the window. Other than that, were the retroreflective road signs, blinding us in the radiance of the Australian outback. However, upon glancing at each display we sneered in raw befuddlement. ‘One hundred kilometres’ to the next town – distances we had never faced in urban Sydney.

Our minivan would shake along every imperfection on the rugged dirt track. The kind of topography Mackellar described as a ‘sunburnt country’. I sat behind the driver’s seat with my good friend, an identical twin and Renaissance man with proficiency in chess, drama, swimming, violin, and esoteric debates (his counterpart was just as bright but sparingly chose the other bus so I would not look any worse). In the front was my Year-eight Science teacher, and in the back were boys from the year above, all extroverts, bestowing our group with the moniker: “party bus”. By the end of the trip, the van’s interior was laden with paper Maccas bags, plastic bottles, and rummaged packets of Allen’s snakes. But through every destination we caromed through, we felt the connection to the land and the spectre of all those here before us.

To many of us, it was the furthest we had ventured out of our Sydney bubble and our only experience with the oldest continuing culture on Earth.

Fast-forward to only a few days ago, when my modern history teacher introduced the class to the Premier’s Anzac Memorial Scholarship, recommending we enter. Along with many other boys, I was enamoured with the prospect of sightseeing in a foreign region with like-minded historians. But the destinations – Singapore and Darwin – brought about a mild bemusement in my colleagues. And in all honesty, I was in that camp too. Like many Australians, we had learnt about the ANZAC effort in far-off corners of the world. The diggers in Gallipoli, the Rats of Tobruk, and the wounded in Vietnam. Australians had fought in every extremity of the alphabet from Afghanistan (2001-2021) to Zanzibar (1896) but I still knew nothing about the Darwin bombings or the Fall of Singapore. Nevertheless, I thought about the two locations. For me, there is nothing more interesting than an anomaly. And exploring Darwin and Singapore with fellow ‘PAM’s scholars would pique my curiosity.

In my expedition through rural NSW (appropriately named the [redacted] tour), I learnt that exploring a location and its history are two contrasting undertakings. In doing the former, one can completely miss a rich, indelible truth about a place, one that defines its character. Take the Brewarrina fish traps for example. As we stepped onto the banks of the Darling River, we all groaned, disappointed by the high tide of that day, enshrouding the fish traps from our sight. But as we learnt about the tradition, culture, and wisdom of the Ngunnhu people, suddenly a picture began to emerge about Brewarrina. No longer was it just a remote outback community but instead one steeped deeply in its 60,000 years of Aboriginal heritage. I can only imagine exploring Singapore and Darwin through a historical lens would be a similar experience.

As a keen debater and historian, I am often described as curious, conscientious, and academic. However, I am also a member of the school [redacted] society and [redacted] team. Both of which endeavour to serve the community through pancake sales, Lego building sessions with the [redacted], Christmas appeals, and other charitable works. It was one dreary Thursday afternoon when I and two other students served at the Matthew Talbot Hostel in Kings Cross. After signing in, passing through a barrier, and tucking my bag away in a locker, I assumed the evening would only be a bleak and tiresome rigmarole. However, painted on the somewhat dilapidated wall was Mother Teresa’s adage: “Peace begins with a smile”. Although uncomfortable to begin with, I soon opened up as I set up the tables for those on the fringes of society, soon making friends with one of the residents, George. I now subscribe to the theory that the greatest life lessons are not confined to the classroom.

And although fluent in the Russian Revolution, the American Civil War and the rise and fall of The Third Reich, I still catch myself now and then reading article upon article on the Civil Rights Movement in Australia. As part of the [redacted] expedition, I visited the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Baradine, where I learnt about inequality rooted in Australian history. From 1902-1959, Indigenous Australians in the region were forced onto the Pilliga Aboriginal reserve, a small settlement outside of Baradine created in an attempt by the Aborigines Welfare Board to assimilate Indigenous culture into conventional society. Many analogous settlements were also established throughout NSW, eradicating so many traditional languages, rites, and rituals. But what I saw that day in Baradine was the dynamic tradition based on timeless values that continue to animate Indigenous Australians to this day.

I observed a similar phenomenon in the last term of 2022, upon studying the ‘rights and freedoms’ unit of Mandatory history. What I assumed to be a largely outdated tradition was in fact alive, with films such as ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ focusing on the adversity of Indigenous Australians. Songs like ‘Beds are Burning’ captured the progressive zeitgeist of the era. Hence, that was my most significant lesson from the unit. Although understanding the injustice of the past is essential for the cognizance of modern society, creating change is just as essential in facilitating progress.

This is a theme salient in Australia’s military history. And as we waited in line at the Baradine Hotel, expecting our share of the dole, we forgot to appreciate those who were forced to wait outside. One hundred years ago, Indigenous Australians who served along ANZAC lines, amidst the Lone Pine, the Somme, and Hindenburg, were denied entry into the clubs their colleagues embraced. But it would be remiss not to honour the bravery, grit and heroism of all Australians involved. And so thus is the spirit of commemoration. Although one would struggle to find a perfect side in any conflict, it is imperative to reflect on the hardships faced by those who came before us, especially the ones who died. Importantly, that is how society changes. And for Australia to successfully move through the 21st century, it is essential that our veterans are commemorated, for only in understanding the past can mistakes be prevented and opportunities discovered.
 
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HazzRat

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2) The school's recommendation. Glaze yourself. That's my only advice here. Instead of getting your school to write the statement for you, write the thing yourself flattering yourself for every small achievement, and then hand that to your teacher. In the end, I only had a few bits cut where I glazed myself a bit too much. Something about "HazzRat has demonstrated a deeply sincere humanitarian virtue through years of charitable work to the community"... which was a straight-up lie. But again, start off strong and let the teachers cut back if the narcissism goes a bit too far. This may appear hollow to people who aren't familiar with recommendations and personal statements but it's just the dirty work that's gotta be done.

Good luck to all 2024 entrants. Idk why it doesn't say where they're going on the website but just know they've gone to France, Belgium, Germany, Turkey and more in the past, so it's probably overseas again 🤔 but can't be certain.
 
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Mitin77

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The "Premier's Anzac Memorial Scholarship Guide" serves as an invaluable resource for aspiring scholars, providing comprehensive information on eligibility criteria, application procedures, and the significance of the scholarship. With clear and concise guidance, it empowers individuals to honor the Anzac legacy through academic pursuits. This guide embodies the commitment to fostering educational opportunities in remembrance of those who served.
 

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