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Grenzgänger – bordercrosser

I am a border crosser – a “Grenzgänger” in German. I am an expert in Microsoft Office programmes(The Bill Gates – Windows conglomerate programmes) and now I have bought myself an Apple MacBook Pro (The predominatly anti-Bill Gates competition product.)
I am Australian but speak fluent German. 
I am a woman, but surrounded by men. 
I am intelligent and also emotional and sensitive. 

At the end of the six years of primary school, I wanted to go to the catholic girls college like some of my school friends and as recommended by my grade six teacher who was a nun and by our local parish priest. He even came to our house to talk to my parents about it. They insisted that they could not afford the fees of sending their children to a private school, since we were five children and my oldest brother Ron was already attending St.Albans High School. So I also went to St.Albans High School and so did Gary, my younger brother.

I had to decide whether to learn French or German. Then, when it was time to send Eric to secondary school, my Dad had had a promotion, I had received a Commonwealth scholarship and Ron was on a cadetship from the PMG – the Post Master General which was later divided into Australia Post and Telecom. So Eric was the first one in our family to attend a catholic secondary college. George my youngest brother also then went to St.John’s College in Braybrook.

In high school I wanted to do everything when we had to choose between commercial and maths-science stream. Since everyone knew that I was so intelligent, it was obvious that I had to do the maths-science stream. But I still wanted to learn to type and insisted that I wanted a typewriter for my 13th birthday. Dad got me one from work and bought me a “Teach yourself typing” book to go with it, insisting that I was too good to be just a secretary-typist.

In form two (at age 13) I had to decide whether to take Russian, art or commercial principles and practice in the following year. By then my younger brother Gary was attending the same school and learning to type as a standard part of his education. I wanted to learn Russian and was jealous of my girlfriends Eva and Maria, both of Czech origin, who attended the Russian classes. My art teacher in form two, insisted I was too talented to not continue doing art and so of course I had to take art in form three instead of commercial principles and practice (CPP). He even hung one of my paintings outside the headmaster’s office. I was fascinated by the business world and wanted to know all about it, but the timetable was just not accommodating and I continued learning maths and science, instead of CPP. I was the best in the class in maths and often got on my teacher’s nerves with questions and corrections of his work.

In form four we had to decide again and I was shocked to discover a very intelligent school colleague left school for some seemingly trivial reason. I was devastated. I knew that Heinz Merkl was very intelligent and gifted, but perhaps not so disciplined or diplomatic. The teachers didn’t know what to do with him. He was a trouble maker. Today I would compare him to my own gifted children, Andi and Nathan who really gave their primary school teacher a hard time because they were just too quick and demanding. Heinz and another school-friend left and disappeared out of my life, not without impacting me first. Another girlfriend of mine, disappeared during the school year, having asked me first what would I say if she said that she was pregnant. I knew that she was living with her step father and that their relationship was extremely personal and physical. I regretted later that my response to her was “serves you right”. I guess I really could not imagine that she really was pregnant, she was only 15 or younger. But she suddenly just stopped coming to school too.

The choice in form four was science or humanities, and I was streamed into the maths, physics, chemistry mould, despite my personal longing to do biology which clashed with the other science subjects. I really did enjoy physics and realised that I was indeed clever enough to understand so much which was difficult for others. Socially, I was very withdrawn and shy. Many of my friends were dating and flirting. I had a good reputation as being friendly and helpful and clever. Many school friends often asked me for help and advice. I realised that I enjoyed listening to all sides and that even by just repeating their arguments logically, many problems and conflicts could be resolved and I was a popular counsellor and a good listener. I did not take sides, nor did I betray anyone. I had to take maths to support the physics. Physics and chemistry belong together. Maths was also supposed to help chemistry.

By form six, I insisted that I would not continue going to high school unless I could study biology. I actually spent a lot of my free time going through the form five biology book simply because it interested me. The form five curriculum was mainly botany. In form six we did anatomy. It was not really a surprise that I got a second class honour in biology then at matriculation. Pity that I failed chemistry and maths II though. Of course I had to study English literature in matriculation, again because my English teacher knew that I was so gifted and clever. I even went to the university libraries to do research about our English literature books. I think somewhere along the way, I did not understand what was really required for English literature. I can’t blame the teacher, Mr Carmody, he was really friendly, but the system of external examinations was also not very accommodating.


  1. Boris

    Hi Lilly!
    Found your name on Elke Wirths Plaxo, and loved your Grenzgänger.
    Gosh you know how to write.
    So captivating.

    Would love to hear something about the peace academy you attended or worked for in Australia.

    Take care and keep up that writing!!

    Regards, Boris

  2. Lilly Gundacker

    Dear Boris,
    Of all the activities I have written about, from the many I have done, it interests me to know why you chose that time I spent with PWPA?
    The First conference on Interdisciplinary approaches to peace was held at Sydney University in 1983. I was studying in Tasmania and was asked to support the conference and ended up filming it. The following year I was asked to join the staff in Canberra and worked on publishing and distributing the proceedings of that conference and preparing and organizing the next one which was held in Queensland 1984. I still have a copy of the proceedings and it breaks my heart when I see that these activities were apparently not documented and recorded/reported and thus do not appear on the web site of PWPA
    You seem to be pulling on my strings of conscience, that perhaps it is still up to me to get this information documented?

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