Pioneer Public – Alex Gill

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Pioneer Public – Alex Gill

Photo by Alex Gill

Photo by Alex Gill

Photo by Alex Gill

Written By Amanda Andrews, Co-Features/A&E Editor

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The latest in social media outrage has been over the Australian bushfires, with posts praying for the estimated one billion animals and 28 people killed in the raging flames that have swept the country and continent.

For dual American and Australian citizen and Point Park student Alex Gill, the fires are even more personal.

“It’s heartbreaking. It’s just, what people don’t realize too is that it’s actually been going on since September,” Gill said. “It really started to take off around then, and it feels like it really only got attention about two weeks ago.”

Gilll, a senior sports, arts and entertainment mangagement (SAEM) major, has most of his roots in Australia. He was born in the capital Sydney, near South Wales, and all of his extended family lives in the country. Both his mother and father come from Australia. His parents made the decision to move him and his older brothers to Wexford, Pennsylvania when he was 2.5-years-old.

Growing up, Gill and his family would go back every year for a couple of months to visit family. His mother’s family lives mostly in north Australia near Queensland, and his father’s family lives in southern Australia in Tasmania.

It became more difficult to coordinate visits as he grew older due to a variety of factors, including the costs of travel involved and having to take breaks from school. By the time he was 12-years-old, the visits stopped altogether for 10 years. He eventually returned to Australia by himself in the summer of 2018 for around a month to visit his aging grandmother as well as his cousins.

“My mom always wanted to go back; my dad, he wanted to stay,” Gill said of the lapses in vacation.

Luckily, Gill’s extended family has been spared from the fires as most of them live in north Australia, where the fires haven’t spread. He said he wasn’t surprised that climate change had played a role in the current crisis.

“Australia has been in a drought for years, and it quickly gets ended. And then it starts up again. So it’s just Australia is incredibly dry,” he said. “It’s just out of control at this point.”

The bushfires are not stopping Gill from visiting again, however.

“I’m thinking about once I graduate I might go back for a bit. Because I’m a citizen still there, and I am a citizen here as well. So the option of going back is pretty easy.”

It’s more than just about holding citizenship there. Australia is something of a second home to Gill. His fondest memories of the place mostly consist of different times he’s been able to visit his relatives over the years.

“I know it’s pretty generic, but…growing up here, all my friends talk about how they go see their grandparents and their cousins,” he said. “I never really grew up with that. So it’s definitely like a pretty cool memory when I go back.”

He’s also traveled to Barcelona, Spain six years ago and, after getting some work under his belt, would like to expand on his travels after graduation.

“I kind of want to travel and find the next place I want to move to. And an option is Australia [that] I’ve thought about going back to,” Gill said. “Because there’s a few family and friends who have offered for me to come back there and stay with them.”