Interviews

Published on September 12th, 2016 | by admin

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Jessica Hackett Interview (Journey of a Thousand Smiles, Melbourne Fringe 2016)

We catch-up with Jessica Hackett who is presenting her new show at the Melbourne Fringe Festival called Journey of a Thousand Smiles. Melbourne born Jessica Hackett spent many sleepless nights thinking of the people stuck on Nauru. Perhaps there was someone just like her out there, only trapped, afraid and alone. All Jess could think about was that we all must have a welcoming spirit within us. All she needed to do was find it…

Tell us what inspired you to create Journey of a Thousand Smiles?

Journey of a Thousand Smiles is based on my walk from Melbourne to Canberra in February this year. Through the walk, I wanted to show that Australians are welcoming and generous and that we want a more humane treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.

The response was amazing and I experienced first hand the wonderful hospitality of both country and city folk along the way. I can’t wait to tell these stories of welcome, from the perspectives of farmers, resettled refugees, politicians, mothers and more. I feel that in this climate of worry and fear, a story of hope and compassion might be just what we need!

Throughout your journey in creating Journey of a Thousand Smiles, which three smiles stand out the most and why?

  • The smile between local farmers and refugee volunteers that sparked the beginning of new friendships.
  • The toothless smile of a man from a tiny town I walked through (population of one), when he met me on the lawn of Parliament House, the last day of my 700km journey.
  • The smile that we all have when we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and realise that a smile would be a wonderful gift for them to have.

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In collecting your stories, which ones resonated with you the most?

Those amazing stories that really touch your heart and keep our faith in humanity are among those that I remember the most.
One man in Albury told me how the UN had sent him to live here in Australia, but his friends were sent to Canada. On the plane he couldn’t eat anything because he was so nervous, he’d never been alone like that before. When he arrived at the airport and walked through the arrival gate, somebody said G’day to him and smiled. Before he left his home country, his friends had told him about Australians saying G’day and what it meant. They were trying to cheer him up. At that moment he knew everything was going to be ok. Ten years later this man volunteers to pick up refugees from the airport and take them to their new homes. He said that giving someone hope is the best thing in the world. He said, when you welcome someone, you’re giving them hope.

What are you most looking forward to at the Melbourne Fringe Festival?

Seeing what other artists are up to and being a part of the creative atmosphere!

If you were the mother of Australia, what would be your proudest moment of this country?

At the moment, I can’t stop thinking of all those ordinary people who helped me and welcomed me into their homes and lives. I also think of the dedication of those who are volunteering to help the vulnerable. With these memories, I will always have faith in humanity.

Most disappointing?

Every time a decision is made against the wellbeing of humanity.

Where do you get your inspirations from?

People and their stories.

What does the rest of 2016 hold for you?

Hopefully more opportunities to spread the word of this amazing journey.

The future?

Ditto.

Lastly, how would you sum up Journey of a Thousand Smiles in a Twitter tweet?

One woman sets out alone, on foot, seeking hope and compassion in a country divided by fear

Check out Jessica at the Melbourne Fringe Festival and to book tickets, please visit https://melbournefringe.com.au/program?event/journey_of_a_thousand_smiles/0b5d2dc6-d0a8-4a53-a86b-38d0d22f1ac5/


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