Touching Down - Simpson Prize 2014
For over a decade the Australian War Memorial has supported the Simpson Prize, the premier history based essay writing competition for Australian school students. In the 2014 centenary, the Simpson Prize has once again inspired students across the nation, and eight lucky winners, one from each state and territory, have today touched down in Istanbul for the start of their tour of Turkey and the Gallipoli battlefields. I have the honour of leading the group again this year and being their battlefield guide.
It is one of the most rewarding parts of my role as Education Manager at the Memorial, the opportunity to explore this part of our history, to inspire and challenge the students and hopefully to encourage understanding. The Anzac legacy will be in their hands in the future and with the understanding and experience of this trip they will hopefully find relevance for themselves and place their own value on this part of our history.
Please follow our blog where you will read the words of the students as their experience unfolds.
Istanbul: Day 1
Coming from Perth, I had 28 hours in transit between Perth, Sydney, Singapore and Istanbul. Although very tedious, it allowed time for the realisation that I was going to Turkey to sink in. It also allowed me to get closer to the other Simpson Prize members, time which came in very useful later on as we didn't have such a big period of awkwardness.
When we reached Istanbul and went through customs, the group went to the hotel and had a well needed shower after over a day in an aeroplane. After this, we went for a drive and had a quick glimpse at some of the sights with our Turkish tour guide, Orhan. Lunch at a meatball house followed this before we went to a boat tour along The Bosphorus river, the strait connecting Europe and Asia. This provided information about Turkey as a whole, the importance of this body of water, the architecture and their way of life, and thus allowed us to realise the great and long history of the Ottoman Empire.
Finally we went to the 'Grand Bazaar'. This meant we had greater interaction with the Turkish people themselves as up to this point the interaction had mainly been from a distance, whether being from a bus or a boat. One thing that surprised me was trying to imagine these regular people fighting our soldiers in The First World War and how all people are inherently the same, regardless of culture or language.
Overall, the day was a great introduction to Istanbul, one of the most historical cities in the world and it's people.
Jacob Baron (Western Australia)