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"The moment that gave me hope for multiculturalism in Australia."

It’s safe to say that this year has been tainted by racism, intolerance and fear.

During this year, I have felt less and less hopeful about the future of Australia’s multiculturalism.

But all of this recently changed. Just one moment on the train is all it took for my hope in Australia’s multiculturalism to be reinvigorated.

I was making my usual commute to work on the train,surrounded by people from diverse backgrounds. People who were chattering away or scrolling through their phones. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then, two young ladies stepped into the carriage and started speaking to each other.

train
“Just one moment on the train is all it took for my hope in Australia’s multiculturalism to be reinvigorated.” Image via Pexels.

They were both from East Asian backgrounds – I wasn’t completely sure whether they were Chinese or Korean.

They began talking about university and as they talked they slipped easily speaking Chinese. Then they started speaking in Korean. A mere 5 minutes later, I realised they were practicing their Japanese on each other.

All I could think to myself was just how amazing these two Australian women were. All I could think was how incredible their ability to switch between so many languages was, even if they were only speaking in short phrases at a time.

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And then I started thinking about how lucky we are to live in a country filled with people from such diverse backgrounds, people who immerse themselves in a variety of different cultures.

That’s the fabric of my Australia. A society that is not only accepting and tolerant of other cultures, but actively engages with them and shares parts of their own.

Whether you’re French, Sri Lankan or Indigenous Australian, it’s safe to say you have shared aspects of your culture with those around you, and integrated parts of others into yours.

I know I have. I’ve managed to integrate a mix of all sorts of cultures and traditions into my own identity as a second generation Australian and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

To me, those two young ladies embodied what Australia’s multicultural society has the potential to be. Sure, we have faced plenty of issues to do with racism and ignorance recently, and tensions continue to exist. But we also live in the most multicultural country in the world, where around a quarter of the population were born overseas, and more than 40 per cent of people have at least one parent who was born overseas.

Our schools teach all sorts of languages, as well as educating children on various cultural traditions. Our dinners consist of rice, peking duck and lasagne, and we’re increasingly fascinated by music from around the world.

We are seeing more ethnic faces on our TV screens, with personalities such as Jessica Gomes, Margaret Zhang and Waleed Aly making multiculturalism even more mainstream.

Australian model Jessica Gomes and her mum. Image via Instagram.

As long as we continue along this path, nurturing and not just tolerating, I am incredibly hopeful about the strength of Australia’s multicultural future.  I can see a future where many more Australians learn each other’s languages, and then speak to each other in English, then Korean then Spanish.

Isn’t that an amazing thought?

Even during times when you feel beaten down by intolerance, aren’t you filled with even the tiniest bit of hope?

Because I am.

What do you think about the future of multicultural Australia? 

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