Esto Sol Testis

For my community project, I decided to go back to my old school (because twelve years at school apparently wasn’t long enough). I enjoyed my time at school and hold my teachers and administrative staff in much higher regard, having now witnessed my friends struggling with the demands of a degree in Education.
Kambala introduced the study of history to me. Perhaps it was the moment when we made our own archaeological dig in a shoe box in year 7, or studied the Titanic in year 10 (aka arguing if there was enough space on the door for Jack Dawson *spoiler alert* there was), or even our field trips to the Rocks, and Vaucluse House in primary school. I can’t pin point the exact moment in which I became fascinated about the past, but it was undeniably born, cultivated, and matured inside school walls. I studied both ancient history and history extension for the HSC. While I wanted to take modern history too someone-who-shall-not-be-named thought that mathematics was a better idea (it wasn’t). However, despite learning about the great history of great men, the school’s history of my school was largely ignored. I graduated with more knowledge about the gymnasiums in Pompeii than Kambala’s buildings.
I therefore decided to work with the Kambala Old Girls Union (KOGU) in order that I might engage deeper with my school’s history and the community which had taught me so much. This year marks the 120th Anniversary of the Kambala Old Girls Union. As part of the celebrations, KOGU is releasing a series of images and biographies on old girls who have led inspirational lives. I myself wrote the biographies for nine deceased old girls.
This was a challenge as it was difficult to obtain information about some of the old girls, given they lived in the 1800s. However, having researched their lives deeply by trawling through 1903 editions of the Sydney Morning Herald I managed to find sufficient information to construct a biography about their lives.
I was fascinated by the challenging and intriguing nature of these old girls’ lives. While some served in the Red Cross during World Wars I and II, another founding the Country Women’s Association, to another becoming one of the best artists in Australia, these girls, who walked the same halls as myself for twelve years left a significant mark on the country’s history. In HSC Ancient History we spent months studying powerful women like Hatshepsut, one of the most powerful Pharaohs in New Kingdom Egypt. We studied Livia, Julia, Octavia, the wife, daughter and sister of Augustus. We studied the great female protagonists from the Classical Tragedians (I think at this point I need to confess my true passion for history lies in Ancient Rome, specifically 42BC-14D).
We studied these captivating famous ancient women, women who challenged authority and forged a unique and independent path for themselves in their challenging societies. But, not once did we study the old girl who was the first female junior medical resident officer at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
Not the old girl who raised 95 000 pounds for the Australian Cerebral Palsy Association through her position as Miss Australia.
Not once the old girl who was Australia’s first female diplomat to the United Nations.
Not the girls who walked the same corridors, perhaps sat in the same chairs, wore the same uniform or sang the same school song.
Sometimes it’s not necessary to visit Ancient Rome to find inspirational historical figures as HSC Ancient History would have you believe. Sometimes you can find their fingerprints on the door of M22.*
~ Lizzie Richardson (class of 2012)
*M22 was the history room at Kambala

2 thoughts on “Esto Sol Testis”

  1. Dear Lizzie,
    I have recently joined the Kambala Council and stumbled across your blog. Loved reading it as it has and will inspire and inform my role in the governance and direction for Kambala.

  2. I chanced upon this when I was shocked after 13 years at Kambala some 47 years ago I could not remember what the moto meant! Such an interesting article and I will now look up the Old Girls biogs you refer to.
    (I really kept reading thinking you must have been taught history by Miss Campbell who was the most amazing History teacher. )

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