Abstract: It is January 2014, I encounter a 34-year-old Luritja woman in Central Australia and she recognises me. A flood of memories wash over me as I recall this young woman as a 7-year-old child at Yipirinya School where I worked as a teacher and teacher linguist from 1987-1991. Pivoting off this experience, in this chapter I trace the stories of some of the Yipirinya school children whose idealistic parents and grandparents devoted themselves to ensuring that their youngsters would have access to bilingual education in order to maintain language and culture. I situate this account within the policy era of self-determination that gave rise to this community-controlled bilingual education initiative and then trace the impact of changing policy environments over the decades. By analysing the life course trajectories of some of the first generation of Yipirinya school children I focus on the formative experiences as well as the socio-political factors that have enabled individuals to shape life directions. I conclude by arguing that for some it has been a complex of factors including language and culture maintenance and seeing their elders in leadership positions have enabled some in this group to develop the resilience and strength of identity to establish satisfying life course directions, while for others the barriers of poverty and marginalisation have proved insurmountable.