A Cuppa with Aunty Olga & Somansh

Aunty Olga Collis-McAnespie and Somansh Agrawal in conversation with Bec Harcourt

Olga Collis-McAnespie is a Muruwari Guwamu/Kooma author and businesswoman who has has shared her personal history in three books.

Journey of the Heart came about after meeting a dear old gentleman with a white beard. Merlyn was a spiritual teacher, crystal healer and water diviner. When he called to introduce himself, I was away. Instead he met my husband and he asked if he could leave the message with him.

The message was from my grandmother, my dad’s mother who had died in 1911 and who had passed through Merlyn’s spiritual life in 1990 and she asked him to pass on this message to me which was ‘Journey of the Heart’, and ‘Olga will know’. She further spoke with the healer and said, ‘one day your path and Olga’s path will cross’ and as she predicted, we met in 2016.

Working mostly with word-of-mouth information from families we built a substantial database and is an inclusion of Journey of the Heart.

My Aboriginal heritage, spiritual beliefs, and values are my strength and had provided me peace and contentment. I learnt from my parents, and my old people and from them, I gained strength to support all people.

Listening to Grassroots voices enables spiritual, social, emotional, and educational needs through culture, and understanding. I learnt from those who’d lived a life of struggle, deceit, racism, discrimination, and families that were disconnected and taken away.

I have written three books, each capturing my family’s journey, and to know, understand, and appreciate all other cultures. Such appalling attributes from white government policies – Black Lives Matter. Language certainly gave me something to work with and the pain of seeing both my parents disappear around the corner just so that they could have a chat in their own native tongue, grieved my heart to the core. How belittling was that?”

Somansh Agrawal is a part of the award-winning Digital team in the Education Portfolio at UNSW Business School, where he is championing the evolution of higher education in the digital domain. He has a Masters of Engineering degree from UNSW and has experience working in Educational Technology and IT. Born in London, UK, brought up Gurgaon, near New Delhi in India, and in 2017 he moved to Australia after graduating in engineering from VIT University in Vellore, a bustling town near Chennai in India. Somansh’s love for food and chai comes from his cultural background. He enjoys many different sorts of cuisines, which he believes is one of the easiest ways to bring people together.

On reading Aunty Olga’s life story, Somansh shared: “I loved it with all my heart. It is incredible how she has navigated through life’s toughest moments. She is a true inspiration and gives me a renewed drive to push towards my life goals. I am deeply humbled to experience her culture and to share a peek into her view of the world.”

This conversation is part of a series hosted by Bec Harcourt, UNSW Business School for Indigenous Business Month @UNSW events dovetailed with UNSW 2020 Diversity Festival https://www.edi.unsw.edu.au/diversityfest

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