Studying in a bushfire


When I stepped out of the Sydney International Airport, the smell of ash immediately entered my nose. After a few minutes of walking, I could already feel the phlegm building up in my throat. A gray haze covered the city, and my heart dropped as I realized I was just going to have to get used to it. There are some days where the air quality is so bad, you can see the ash in the air and are advised to not go outside. The next day, the air quality will be good, and the skies will be clear. It all depends on the day and which way the wind is blowing (literally). It is part of my daily routine now to look up the air quality index to decide whether or not I will be going to the beach that day. 

Thankfully, I go to the University of New South Wales, which is right by Sydney, so there are no threats of bushfires. However, many people living in Sydney (like my professor) have family members that had to evacuate their homes.

Every day, people here hope for rain — whether it’s for their families, koalas, kangaroos, or billions of other animals. Recently, there was a thunderstorm that provided some relief for the bushfires, but Australia still desperately needs our help. It has some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, and sadly lots of it has died due to the fires.

Australian relief organizations have been raising money through various tactics. For example, after grocery shopping, the cashiers always ask me if I would like to donate to bushfire fighting organizations. However, with two more months of dry season to go, Australia is going to need all the help it can get. 

A Jan. 6 New York Times Article, entitled “How to Help Victims of Australia’s Fires,” lists some organizations that are accepting donations for Australia’s victims. Consider making a donation today.

Emily Chu is a member of Middlebury class of ’21.