Dirrum Dirrum Festival Reflection

Compiled by Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger, Senior Chaplain

Sonder - the realisation that each random passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

On Saturday, 12 August, the Morison Centre was transformed into a vibrant array of festival stalls, live music, and a platform for compelling speakers.

The Year 12 student team did an incredible job creating a diverse program around the theme of sonder. In a festival like this one, many, many people contribute, bringing the whole thing together to make a remarkable event.

The impact of the festival is still being felt as the idea of sonder continues to resonate. As student organisers Thuhi Mathu-Ragupathy (Year 12) and Terry Yang (Year 12) said in their festival introduction:

The invitation is to immerse yourself in the rich and vivid atmosphere of tonight, to listen, to question, to discuss with others and find a new perspective. And the next time you are in a crowd like this one, or are walking around the city, your school, or workplace, ponder what the life of that person next to you is like.

The Dirrum Dirrum Festival website contains images from the night as well as videos of most of the speakers. This year we heard from:

A significant part of the festival was the stalls, which student organisers worked hard to organise. These included Dymocks Belconnen, Julie Oakley, clothes from Hau Nia Timor and student designers, Stepping Stone social enterprise café, and many more student-led stalls that explored issues or sold handmade items with profits going to Care Australia and the Animal Defenders Office.

Local musicians Will and Annie opened the night with their acoustic sound filling the room. Student bands Illiterate, Unexplained Absence, and Everything Rhymes with Oranges provided entertainment during intermission. Murrigeejar Mob closed the night with an enthusiastic performance that got everyone dancing.

Student organiser Charlotte Taylor (Year 12) closed official proceedings with the following words that summed up what the team had as their vision - a vision that was well and truly fulfilled:

As we come to the close of the festival on the concept of sonder, we can reflect on the way we have delved deeply into the idea that every passer-by, every stranger we encounter, possesses a life as intricate and complex as our own.

As we navigate our daily routines, it is easy to become entangled in our own concerns and preoccupations, unintentionally overlooking the vibrancy of the world that surrounds us. Sonder calls upon us to pause, to consider, and to interact with the stories of those around us. Sonder reminds us that the world is not just a backdrop to our lives, but a stage upon which a multitude of captivating narratives are constantly unfolding.

In a world that often seems to be divided by differences and fuelled by misunderstandings, the concept of sonder offers a bridge – a connection that links us through the recognition that each person carries dreams, struggles, joys, and sorrows unique to their journey. As we cultivate this awareness, we foster empathy, compassion, and the ability to truly listen. It's in these moments of shared humanity that we discover our shared threads and the common ground that unites us all.

So, as we depart from this gathering, let us carry sonder with us. Let us remember to look beyond the surface, as all our speakers have shown us, to explore and question the intricate stories, events, and issues that play out silently and loudly around us. In doing so, we can reshape the way we engage with the world, cultivating a deeper understanding of the people we encounter and the complex tapestry of existence we are all a part of.

Thank you to the media crew and all the staff, in particular, Mr Tim Minehan, Mr David Burcher, Mr Dougal Mordike, Rev. Andy Fleming and Rev. Katherine Rainger, who have supported this year’s Dirrum Dirrum team to put on this amazing festival. Thank you to the Radford and Canberra community for joining and supporting the Dirrum Dirrum Festival for the past ten years.

Feedback from a student attendee:

I really enjoyed Dirrum Dirrum Festival, and I’m not just saying that because I have to! It was very intriguing. I loved asking people about the origin of their store or what their experience with sonder was - and that was all in the first 30 minutes.

I think that the best part of Dirrum was the speeches. Every single one blew me away. I think my favourite was Brenda Matthews'. I cannot imagine the pain she felt when her sister died but also the joy of finding herself and her family.

This has been one of the best festivals I have gone to. The speakers were very motivational, and the stalls were definitely a highlight, each one with a story to share. Whether I was getting a pin, hoodie or cookie, it was fun to see what different stalls were promoting. But I think one of the best things was the music that added a whole other aspect to Dirrum. Overall, I think that this year’s Dirrum Dirrum Festival was a massive success. I loved it.

Click here to read about Year 5/6 Round Square students listening and learning at Dirrum Dirrum Festival.

See you at Dirrum Dirrum Festival 2024!