Cook molds minds at WA


Cook sitting at the pottery wheel in the ceramics room.

Kayla Chavier, Features Editor

Ceramics teacher Julie Cook has created more than vases and bowls in her lifetime.  After growing up in Melbourne, Australia and traveling abroad for a few years, Cook had to mold a new life for herself in the United States.

“America was the big golden light. We always thought, everyone has to go to the U.S. to find out how to live,” said Cook.

Growing up, Cook and her family admired the United States and looked to its culture for inspiration.  Her mother was inspired to follow the model of the “American” mother and Cook enjoyed television shows like Gilligan’s Island.  Although later realizing that it is not extremely different from Australia, Cook was curious about the aura surrounding the idea of America.

After studying ceramics for two years in a college in Australia, Cook became employed in transcendental meditation, which was known to be practiced by the Beatles.  Working for this branch of healthcare, Cook taught massage therapy techniques and was able to travel around the world at a young age, which she says is a common tradition among Australians.

“Australians are great travelers because we’re so far away from everyone. If you go traveling, you’ll always run into Australians,” said Cook.

When her travels brought her to America, Cook continued ceramics and pursued art education at Framingham State.  Cook has been in the United States for over 20 years and has been teaching at Westford Academy for 5 years.

“I go home and I almost feel like I’m American. […]  It’s very strange; I go home and they treat me like […] an outsider,” said Cook.

After being here for so many years, there are several aspects of American culture that Cook finds strikingly different from Australia.  For example, Cook was surprised that customers in American restaurants have the ability to change their orders.  In Australia, customers just accept what they are given.  Not only is the ordering style in restaurants different, but the attitude here is as well.

“[Australians] don’t like to get uptight about anything, and I miss that a little bit. Whereas Americans react to everything, Australians just sort of back-off,” said Cook.

Especially upon her initial arrival in the United States, Cook was surprised to find America to be less welcoming than she supposed. During the immigration process, Cook had to participate in several intense interviews where she was asked random questions such as how many people were at her wedding.  However, Cook says these nerve-racking interviews and precautions by the United States are to ensure immigrants are going to add to society.

When Cook decided to stay in America, her parents were initially dumbfounded and wanted to ensure she would be safe.  Nevertheless, Cook decided to pursue her original desire to be in America for the opportunities and something that attracts her the most.

“I like the positivity (in the United States).  It was the positivity I was so attracted to when I first moved here,” said Cook.