Though the return date may be shrouded in uncertainty, it will not be without extraordinary pride that Professor Stan Grant Jr arrives in the Riverina once again.
At the end of March, Professor Grant was invited by the vice-chancellor of Charles Sturt University, to become the chairperson of the uni's Australian Indigenous Belonging.
Post-pandemic, the new role will entail a variety of speaking and writing opportunities, both domestically and internationally. It will also follow on from his role as the university's chairperson of Indigenous Affairs, which he has held since 2016.
"I have worked at the university before, and so making this transition to the new role, I will be doing what I already do, which is reading widely, writing, researching," Professor Grant said.
"I am honoured to join Charles Sturt University to explore the convergence of Indigenous issues with national and global shifts in politics and power."
Although the appointment was made on March 30th, due to the COVID-19 situation, Professor Grant has not been able to officially make use of his new office in Wagga. For now, he remains self-isolating in Sydney.
But the time in isolation has presented the opportunity to interrogate some big questions for Indigenous personality. In particular, the people group's steeped history of resilience.
"Indigenous people have survived a brutal history through storytelling," Professor Grant said.
"Stories keep our history alive, stories bind us together. What is the importance of storytelling in crisis, in survival? Stories are the guiding light for whatever darkness we're going through."
Inside the solitude, Professor Grant has also found the space to prepare answers to the questions that will continue to exist in the post-pandemic world.
"When coronavirus passes, we need to ask ourselves, what is important to us as a society? Our Indigenous people will still be dying 10 years younger [than the general population average]," he said.
"These are questions that are not going away."
While the role will primarily investigate the experience of Indigenous people groups, Professor Grant recognises the transferable lessons that could be used to improve society across the globe.
"There is no bigger question than how we live together," he said.
"It's important in a university setting to unlock knowledge and engage with the public. It's ideas that drive society.
"Look around the world, there are countries that can't hold their diversity together. We have this opportunity to do it, to live together. It will take work from all of us, but that is the work I want to do."
The new role will also afford Professor Grant the opportunity to return to his native homeland, following years abroad and in major cities, working as a journalist, presenter, author and educator.
"This role is about asking, what does it mean to be, in my case, a Wiradjuri person? What does it mean to live in regional NSW, and how can that experience be made accessible for the widest number of people," Professor Grant said.
"To be able to do that on ancestral land, it's an honour. It gives me a great sense of belonging and purpose."
After years of travelling the globe, the appointment will also mean Professor Grant can collaborate alongside his father, Wiradjuri elder and educator Dr Uncle Stan Grant Snr.
Working together, Professor Grant Jnr said he is looking forward to advancing the cause of Indigenous people.
"I only have the one home, I am a Wiradjuri from the central west, my parents are in Narrandera, I was born in Griffith," Professor Grant Jnr said.
"I have never considered myself to have ever left, the Riverina is always what I mean when I say I'm going home."