This is a chapter from Don’t Peak at High School [ed. Fiona Scott-Norman], a collection of interviews with high-profile Australians about their experiences being bullied at high school and how they have overcame such adversity. Here Paul Capsis remembers his school days in Sydney during the 1970s.
There was no bullying in the first three years. I went to a Catholic school and I was in love with the nuns. I thought the world was wonderful, people were nice, and everyone was free to sing and dance like the Elvis movies I watched on TV. But then Mum couldn’t afford to send me there anymore, and when I was eight I went to a public school in the same suburb, Surry Hills, and it was rough, with a huge mix of cultures – Lebanese, Turkish, Aboriginal, everything.
From when I arrived there were comments: ‘You sound like my sister’, ‘You sound like my mother’, ‘You’re a girl, you’re not really a boy.’ But it was a magical time. I had a wonderful teacher who’d play Beatles records and wanted us to dance and sing and perform. Because of my Greek heritage, when we’d go to parties there’d be Turkish music and belly dancing, and this teacher, my favourite, encouraged me to belly dance in front of the school at assembly.
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