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Centre for Stories

Meet the Intern – Jordan Brunnen

"My time volunteering at a whole range of places has, in a way, been for me to test waters in different fields of work—and along with it, I’ve worked with many wonderful humans."

November 14, 2019

We consider ourselves lucky for having the pleasure of collaborating and working alongside such talented and dynamic interns at the Centre for Stories. Over the course of 2019, a number of interns made their mark at the Centre in some way—so let’s celebrate them!

Meet Jordan Brunnen. Jordan is like a walking and talking ray of sunshine, peaking through the curtains on a warm spring morning. It has been a pleasure to welcome Jordan into the Centre for Stories every Tuesday morning for the past couple of months. On quiet days, or busy days, Jordan brings a calm and cool atmosphere to the space, smile guaranteed.

Jordan’s story collection project, Drag Life, will be released weekly on the Centre for Stories website throughout Pride Month.

Tell the readers about yourself

Well, I’m a 24-year-old who still feels 18, and I have little idea what I’m doing with my life and my super handy English degree. So, let me focus on the things I do know: I enjoy things that are peaceful and quiet, I love the outside when there’s a real atmosphere other than heat and sunshine, and I like looking out windows. I take joy in the smallest of things and I’m often laughing to myself, however strange that makes me sound. To finish off, I’ve been described as bubbly and quiet—go figure!

Your story collection, Drag Life, explores the living experiences of drag performers in Perth. Can you tell us about the story collection: What inspired you? What have you learned from the story tellers? What was unexpected?

I was inspired to do this story collection because although I’ve seen plenty of drag shows, I’ve never thought any deeper. So I saw the opportunity to go in-depth, and here we are. I learnt that drag is much more than dancing and lip-syncing, and it can have so much meaning—which I never gave much thought about before. It really is a big and varied community with many unique performers. And the community seems to be in a time of change, along with many other cultural things in today’s world. Unexpectedly, I love how drag can be so critical and it can be very strong with what it has to say, especially with some of the acts that performers do to get a point across. A prime example being a performance that satirizes the Melbourne Cup. I strongly urge everyone to go see some drag—it really is more than sweet pop songs.

You have dedicated your time to volunteering and interning at a range of different places. Can you tell us a little more about the volunteer work you do, why you do it and what you have learned from it?

My time volunteering at a whole range of places has, in a way, been for me to test waters in different fields of work—and along with it, I’ve worked with many wonderful humans. So far, I’ve done work in a political campaign, at a health service, at a youth centre, as a tutor for school children, in a museum, and lately in a library helping the elderly with their tech. Another main reason I do it is because it’s a challenge to myself and—I’m not gonna lie—I love being in my comfort zone. It’s a terrible flaw and I needed to get out of that. Being stagnant, as one of my interviewees said, is an awful way to live.

On another note, it is a way for me to get experience for work and my career, which I feel is an issue for younger people these days because jobs are difficult to get. But I like to keep positive because the future really is unpredictable. Back in school, I hated English as a subject and then I did it in university. Wild, I know.

Why did you decide to intern at the Centre for Stories, and was it what you expected?

I decided to intern at the Centre because it seemed mysterious and somehow relevant to the things I love: arts, literature, community—all that good stuff. I think I heard about it back in 2015 or 2016, and the title grabbed me. So, all I really knew was that it was a place to do with stories. In 2018 I came to the end of my degree and I was looking for work experience, and I thought about applying for the internship.

Then I started earlier this year, and it has been great. I’m so happy I decided to do it. I came in without many expectations to be honest, except for the story collection. That was definitely challenging but memorable.

I’ve done many different things, met so many wonderful people at the Centre, and I only hope that I can do more similar yet challenging things in the future. I’ve always found Perth to be a little quiet on the arts front, and places like this are valuable and I think it would be incredible to be a part of that growth.

Image of intern Jordan Brunnen sitting casually on the Centre for Stories' book shelf. He's smiling at the camera.

We love a good story. Tell us a story about a time when you encountered something remarkable.

I think that remarkable things happen all the time, and they can be massive, they can be tiny. It’s all relative to a person.

So, here are some very quick stories I find remarkable. Not so many years ago, I couldn’t cook anything. Except for toast and beans. And then ‘Adulthood’ came along, and it said, ‘You must cook! And you cannot! Ha!’ Those words TERRIFIED me. So, what does one do to learn how to cook? They sign up for cooking classes! And that is what I did, and gosh, did I learn a lot. I discovered salt and pepper, I discovered onions and tomatoes, I even managed to make my own custard. So then one day in the kitchen when I was making a pumpkin risotto, I said to Adulthood, ‘Here, taste this, or go stick it!’

Other remarkable moments have been where I’ve found myself in places which I did not expect. Being a young professional, I thought I’d go along to some networking events, and one of them was in one of the taller buildings in Perth, and it was an amazing view—much better than the repeated view from King’s Park. Another time was when I ended up in Perth Government House Gardens for a garden party. I met some fantastic people and the weather was beautiful, food and drinks were everywhere. What more could I have asked for? To me, they were remarkable because they were totally unexpected yet wonderful.

Last of all is when I climbed a summit. It wasn’t Everest, but it was WA’s Everest: Bluff Knoll. Until that point in my life, I’d never climbed up a big hill or mountain, so this was the first time, and it was incredible. Every step was glorious, even though it was pitch black to begin with and I could see no further than my headlamp’s light. Even more exciting was the slow reveal of the land as the sun rose, and it was a magnificent sight from the top with the clouds swirling around, the sun a bright orange orb, and Australia there at your feet.

What is on the horizon for you?

A new horizon, that’s what I hope for. There are many many things I want to learn, such as Japanese, and how to cook more exciting dishes (okonomiyaki, I’m looking at you). I think (and hope!) 2020 will be a big year for me with lots of good changes, so for the rest of this year I’m going to take time to really knuckle down and sort things out and listen to some Zee Avi. I do thoroughly like the idea of somehow helping people through writing and communication. I’m slowly working towards putting a puzzle together.

A little side project I’ve tried to start is a small Instagram blog about parks in Perth, and that will test my photography and writing. One day I’d like to write a book, I’d love to explore more around Australia and Asia, and have a happier and healthier lifestyle. Gosh, so cliché. I also want to learn how to relax more because I am a worrier, so much sometimes that I worry about worrying. I think I might learn how to play the piano or ukulele. And one last thing, I love podcasts, so perhaps I might go and do something about that.

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