Geralton schoolgirl Aleesya Amirizal in Anzac Tour

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
Aleesya Amirizal has won a place in the Premier's Anzac Tour.
Camera IconAleesya Amirizal has won a place in the Premier's Anzac Tour. Credit: Geoff Vivian/The Geraldton Guardian, Geoff Vivian

“Without the Anzacs, we would not be the nation that we are today.

“I think we need to take a deeper look into that and be super-grateful that we had them because we probably wouldn’t be around if we didn’t.”

So says Champion Bay Year 11 student Aleesya Amirizal, pictured, who is preparing to participate in the Premier’s Anzac Student Tour this month.

She will join 13 other students from schools throughout WA to visit historic war sites and memorials in Kununurra, Broome and Rottnest, culminating in the Anzac Day dawn service at Albany’s Mount Clarence.

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Aleesya was chosen to be part of last year’s tour, which was then postponed because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

“We were going in with the thought that we’d be going to Darwin and Singapore but I really like how it’s more of a WA thing now,” she said.

“I think I’m going to be able to better appreciate the places in WA because often as a State, we get overlooked.

I think I’ll be able to gain a deeper understanding of how rich our cultural history is and how we played major roles in the wars.

Aleesya earned her place on the tour by submitting an essay for her Year 9 history class.

“I got an email saying ‘hey, we really like the sound of your essay. You’ve made it to one of the semifinals and can you come down to Perth and do an interview?’,” she said.

“I had a group interview with other semifinalists and we got asked questions about what Anzac Day meant to us, how we celebrated Anzac Day, and what we expected to gain from this tour.

“They wanted to get a sound understanding of who we are as a person, also how closely tied are we to Anzac Day and its history.”

Last year’s intake has been amalgamated with a smaller intake of four students for this year’s tour.

Aleesya said she and other semifinalists travelled to Perth to meet veterans and war widows, who shared their wartime memories and experiences.

“It is really amazing to hear from their perspective,” she said.

“They spoke so beautifully and emotionally about how heavily their lives changed because of the war.

It was a tragedy, but they were able to find people that had also experienced the same tragedy and they were all united because of it.

“I really want to talk about my experience and my newfound knowledge,” she said.

“I want everyone else to appreciate the rich history that WA has and the history of Australia.”

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