Thursday, September 2, 2010

MWF 2010: What Makes a Hero - Jackie French


From the MWF program: Ned Kelly, Simpson and his donkey, the pioneering women of the first world wars... Australia's history is full of people who've done extraordinary things. Join Jackie French as we explore the stories of our best-loved ancestors and what they have in common. Maybe you'll get to answer the tricky question: What really makes a hero?

Ok, last one! I hadn't originally planned to go to this, but my lovely boss suggested we meet at the Festival and catch a session together. I only wrote one page of notes, because if you've ever heard Jackie French speak, you know how passionate and engaging she is.
  • Jackie began with a series of questions from the Heroes Enterance Exam from her School for Heroes book series. The audience interaction throughout this session and the way she was able to engage with a huge group of schoolchildren (aged from 10 to 18) was amazing.
  • What it means to be a hero. She reminded us all that in times of the greatest hardship, humans have shown they are capable of the most compassion, courage and invention.
  • Jackie also spent a lot of time talking about the ways even animals can demonstrate great heroism. She spoke of her research regarding the story of Simpson and his donkey, and how they put themselves at risk to rescue the wounded and were a sign of hope for ANZAC soldiers.
  • There is a time in everyone's life, when they will find out if they are a hero or not.
  • Jackie also told the story of Michael Hingson, a man who was in the first tower to be hit during September 11 and survived. Trapped on the 78th floor, Michael (who has been blind since birth) followed his guide dog, through the smoke to the fire escape and lead others to safety. Shortly after emerging from the building, the tower collapsed.
  • "Tomorrow is never going to be the same as today".
  • Jackie also did a really great job in linking the concept of being a hero with environmentalism. She is incredibly passionate about inventions and eco-technology, which was very interesting to hear about and definitely infects you with her enthusiasm.
I'm really glad I went to this session. It was a wonderful way to end to end my experience at the 2010 Melbourne Writer's Festival! I had an amazing time and got to see, hear and meet so many incredible, inspiring people. Hopefully I'll get to do it all again next year!

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