60 seconds with Resika KC

Resika_1

Mental health worker and global citizen

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
I am enjoying working in community mental health and being able to support people in their recovery. One of the good things about my work is being able to work with people from diverse cultures and different spheres of life. I get to learn many new things everyday about my work and myself which is what I value the most in the sector.

What do you most value in your friends?
I value honesty, support, care and fun in my friendships. I like being there for friends in good and bad times and I value friends who do the same for me.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be? 
To be open and learn about life and culture in Australia, to be confident and willing to share your culture and experiences, and to seek support from friends, family or an external organisation if you feel stuck or alone.

What’s your favourite word in the English language? Why?
I think “welcome” is my favourite word in English as it builds a bridges between two people and provides an opportunity to get to know each other and build a connection.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a woman from an immigrant or refugee background?
I think the biggest challenge for me was to overcome my own assumptions, and what others in my community fed me, about having limited opportunities in Australia- just because you are an immigrant from a different country and culture. However, as I have opened myself to knowing the culture and people better, I have felt that people have accepted me as I am and have valued the knowledge and skills I bring from my background and culture.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant background?
I have challenged a lot of stereotypes in my life whether it be of gender, race or class. This has made me more confident to keep going and I don’t take any opportunities or support for granted due to this experience. I believe that who I am today is because of all the experiences I’ve had being a woman from the CALD community.

What does multiculturalism mean to you?
Multiculturalism is where different cultures, different faces, different perspectives and experiences meet at one place and flourish by learning about each other, valuing the importance of the diversity and respecting each other.

If you could convince the world of one thing, what would it be?
Though people in different parts of world have different values and perspectives, we all are equal and deserve equal opportunities and respect from each other.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would love to remove all the geographical boundaries so that people could travel everywhere freely and not be restricted by belonging to one country or another.

60 seconds with Shegofa Hazara

Shegofa Hazara

Multilinguist and education advocate

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
If I had a magic wand, I would use it to eliminate poverty, corruption and discrimination so no one is forced to leave their country to seek asylum.

What is your best quality or attribute? 
The ability to speak six different languages has made it very easy for me to communicate with people from different backgrounds. By being able to speak those languages, especially in my role as refugee health nurse, I have been able to break down barriers and open up difficult conversations with people.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be? 
That Australia is a beautiful country with vast opportunities available if we choose to take it. Make the most of the opportunities that are given to you. Especially for women from refugee and immigrant backgrounds who may never have had the opportunity to equal rights and education in their country of birth.

I love one of Napoleon Bonaparte’s quotes – ‘Give me an educated mother, I shall promise you the birth of a civilised, educated nation.’ I could not agree more. An educated mother and her attitudes in an uneducated society can change a whole generation.

This quote has always been my inspiration as it encourages me to be a better parent and person. It also encourages me to provide quality education and positive attitude to  future generations.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant refugee/ background? 
Being a role model to other women in the community and breaking the stereotypes.
My past experiences as a woman have taught me to be resilient and strong despite the difficulties you face. Those experiences motivated me to do better and grab the opportunities that are available to me, which were never available before.

Being the first female to finish university from my family with not much guidance is the best thing that has happened to me. 

If you could invite any woman, (dead or living) to dinner, who would it be and why? 
I would love to invite Dr Sima Samar, who is currently in Afghanistan, to dinner. She is a well-known women’s and human rights advocate, activist and a social worker within the national and internal forums in Afghanistan. She has also served as Minister of Women’s Affairs of Afghanistan. She is the first Hazara female from Afghanistan who has helped build schools and hospitals all over Afghanistan. She has been the only female who helped and encouraged Afghan people to continue with their education despite the war.

She is an inspiration to me and motivates me to be a leader, a role model and an advocate for women’s rights. If she has been able to do it in a county where women have no equal rights, then I can certainly do it in a country like Australia.

What does multiculturalism mean to you? 
Multiculturalism for me is a source of strength. Diversity brings with it a vast wealth of knowledge and experiences if we choose to accept it.

60 seconds with Dr Kudzai Kanhutu

Kudzai Kanhutu

Doctor, stargazer and pop lover

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
Brushing up on my tennis game and learning to stargaze with our brand new telescope.

If you were a super-heroine, what powers would you like to have?
I would like to have the ability to speak every language on the planet both current, ancient and extinct. Every part of my day would be easier and I would use the skill to communicate and better understand all those around me. I’d also like to be able to teleport in order to get myself to places faster.

What’s your favourite word  in any language? Why?
My favourite word is “Svutugadzike” which is the Shona word for tea. I love it because it speaks not only to the physical act of drinking tea but also of contemplation, mindfulness and reflection. Beautiful…

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a woman from an immigrant or refugee background?
Learning to comfortably assert your value and worth in an environment where there is often very little acknowledgement of women let alone women from diverse cultural backgrounds.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant refugee/ background? 
Once you accept that so much is possible if you commit to it and persevere it allows you so much freedom. Culturally you have very much free reign because people often don’t know how to place you so you can fairly well do and be whatever you choose to be.

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
Amazing women?! I know way too many! To name just one would seem a huge injustice!

What are you reading right now?
The washing instructions tag on a pair of new boxer shorts…. Do they REALLY have to tell you not to dry clean these?

Do you have a song/ music that inspires and motivates you?
Guilty pop pleasures here….. Beyonce’s “Run The World, Girls” always gets me fired up. The original sampled track Major Lazer’s “Pon de Floor” is astonishingly good.

If you could meet the Prime Minister tomorrow, what would you like to tell him?
Probably nothing he doesn’t already know…

60 seconds with Sarah Shoukor

Sarah Shoukor

Mental Health Support Worker and Hogwarts School Graduate

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
If I had a magic wand and was able to attend Hogwarts (still waiting for my acceptance letter) I would build a Hogwarts in every country for children to be accepted for who they are and what they bring.

What is your best quality or attribute?
Loving me for who I am and always being honest with me, even if the truth hurts sometimes.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
Do not try and fit into a box. Embrace where you come from and what it has taught you, as well as what you will learn living in Australia.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a woman from an immigrant or refugee background?
I’m always questioning where I fit in. I feel torn between two cultures: am I Iraqi or Australian? What does it mean to belong to these cultures? It was particularly hard being in high school, starting new friendships and sometimes not being able to fit in because you feel that you won’t be accepted for who are.

What are you reading right now?
The Nawal El-Saadawi Reader.

If you could invite any woman, (dead or living) to dinner, who would it be and why?
Nawal El-Saadawi- she is an Egyptian feminist novelist, critic and human rights advocate. She wrote about physical and psychological hardships women in the Middle East faced. She challenged the “traditions”- particularly writing about sex and women.

Simply being in the same room as her would make me feel more empowered. I would also want to thank her for challenging traditions and for giving a women a voice.

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
My mother, as she has taught me resilience and confidence. She sacrificed a lot to provide my sister and I with a comfortable and safe life. I wish I had enough time to explain how amazing she is. I think you will have to meet her to see for yourself, as words are not enough.

She was always brave and I learnt to be determined from her at a young age. She always made sure my sister and I were looked after, even when crossing the border with us being under the age of 7, and with my father in another country. She had to build a life for us in Lebanon without any support and I never heard her complain or saw her give up.

Name a book or a film that changed your life
The Harry Potter books changed my life. It was my safe place as a young person who was adjusting to a new life in a new country. They taught me to believe in my abilities, to never give up no matter how hard it gets and to be welcoming of different people.

60 seconds with Ruby

Ruby

ASPIRE Photovoice Artist and Persistent Wonder Woman

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
I am enjoying being part of the ASPIRE Photo Project. It has been an amazing experience and I have been very fortunate to work with some extraordinary women. This project has allowed me to come out of my shell and express myself in an artistic manner which I could never have imagined before now.

If you were a super-heroine, what powers would you like to have?
I would like to be Wonder Woman and use her Lasso of Truth on our politicians.

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
I would use the wand to make the poor rich and the rich poor. Give the poor a chance to smile.

What is your best quality or attribute?
Persistence.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
I would like to be an architect/builder so that I could design and erect buildings that are sustainable, intuitive and inclusive.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
Respect and love yourself. And be persistent.

What is your favourite word in any language? Why?
‘Gaea’ is my favourite word. Gaea was a Primal Greek Earth Goddess that predates patriarchal religions. We cannot live without Mother Earth, she nourishes and sustains us, she wipes away our tears with her softness and doesn’t give us false impressions. When you look at nature you see the cycle of life and death. Gaea does not separate life from death, only humans do that.

Can you describe a time when you felt discriminated against as someone with an immigrant background?
Every single day when I was at primary school. I knew when I woke up in the morning I would be called a ‘wog’ at some point during the day. I would be excluded from playing games during break times because I was a wog. So, I would go to the oval and create my own tree house and guess what? Those who found it hard to play with a wog would come to the Wog’s Tree House and ask to be invited in.

If you could invite any woman (dead or living) to dinner tonight, who would it be?
My Beautiful Mother, who never gave up even when cancer invaded her body.

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
Well, many moons ago my mother walked into the local Bakery in our quiet town and asked the man behind the counter, in her broken English, ‘I would like a split Vienna please.’ The man behind the counter said, ‘sorry we don’t have any.’ My mother pointed to the loaf on the top shelf thinking perhaps the man didn’t see it. The man behind the counter said, ‘I told you we don’t have any.’ My mother took my hand and walked out of the store.

The second week my mother walked into the bakery and asked, ‘I would like a split Vienna please.’ The man behind the counter said, ‘sorry we don’t have any.’ My mother pointed to the loaf on the top shelf. ‘I told you we don’t have any,’ said the man behind the counter. My mother took my hand and walked out of the store.

The third week my mother walked into the bakery and said, ‘I would like a split Vienna please.’ The man behind the counter said, ‘sorry we do not have any.’ My mother pointed to the loaf on the top self. ‘I told you we do not have any’ said the man behind the counter. Another customer spoke up and said, ‘Excuse me mate, there is a loaf on the top shelf.’ The man behind the counter placed the loaf in a paper bag, my mother paid like every other customer, took my hand and walked out of the store. This is how my tenacious mother taught me about persistence.

60 seconds with Melek Cetiner

Melek Photo

Cross-cultural trainer and social justice warrior

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
Spending time with my grandchildren and enjoy watching them enjoying the moment and appreciating the little things in everyday life.

If you were a super-heroine, what powers would you like to have?
To eliminate poverty, violence, war and discrimination.

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
Change the words of those who incite fear and division to words of encouragement, kindness and unity.

Biggest challenge as a woman from an immigrant background?
I was a child migrant. We migrated under the “White Australian Policy”. Like most first generation migrant kids, I took on the grown up role both in my family and my community as an interpreter for all issues. I was booked up everyday after school and school holidays to interpret for some one in the community.

Name a book or film that changed your life.
It’s hard to name one. Every book I read, film and play I saw has changed something in me, my life and the way I see the world. It is incremental and accumulative. I believe, it teaches me so much about the complexities of life, politics, social issues about people, relationships and about me and how I see the world.

What has been the biggest challenge about living in Australia so far?
Finding myself in the new country. Finding a way to belong to my new country whilst maintaining my identity and belonging to my roots. Seeking ways to learn how to be a contributing member of the society in which I live.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
It’s not always going to be like this. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself, embrace who you are and your heritage, explore possibilities, make new friends, allow time and be kind to yourself.

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
There are and have been so many inspiring women in various stages of my life. Maybe I start with my friends. They are inspiring, capable, caring, creative and made a real difference to my life and continue to contribute to my life every day. My mother is another; I always say I want to be like my mother when I grow up. She is not afraid of the new or the different. She is a great story teller and has a proverb for every occasion. She is sharp, strong, independent supportive and kind. I have met some amazing woman in my varying roles, who taught me so much. Most of all, the woman who I work with (clients) from all walks of life who are resilient, smart, adaptable and supportive to those around them whilst they are working through their own issues, all at the same time.

What are you reading right now?
I try daily to scan through a few papers (including the ones not written in Australia) in the mornings before I get to work. Not always very successfully. I get in to a bit more detail on the weekends I try to read material to improve my knowledge in the area of my work. I have just started reading “Talking to My Nation”, and I recently read, “Australia Second Chance” which provides a very unique history of Australia dating back to 1788.

What is your favourite possession?
My memories.

What does multiculturalism mean to you?
Where we all live together valuing the strengths in our differences, and caring for those who are just arriving. Remembering we were all new arrivals once and we all remember those who were kind and helped us settle in to our new country.  

If you could meet the Prime Minister tomorrow, what would like to tell him?
Be humane, be authentic, and be kind to the refugees, asylum seekers and members of our society who have been made vulnerable. Invest equally in education for the children of our society. They are the nation’s future.

Finish this sentence: “We need feminism because…”
…we haven’t achieved gender equality yet.