Diversity week Interview with Celestina Rabi, 22/03/22| Chanceline Kakule
Every year on the 19th-27th of March, we as a nation recognise the significance that this week holds, for all people who come from the four corners of the world. Multiculturalism is a core part of the Australian identity and our way of life. With this year’s theme being, “Connecting through culture” it is important to always recognise March 21st, as it paved the way for Cultural Diversity Week. On this Day, also known as the United Nation’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; it is a reminder of how far we yet have to go in eradicating racism. As we celebrate and recognise how vital multiculturalism is nationally and globally; Celestin Rabi is a classic example of a young woman using her voice to work with and for communities to see an end to racism and to bring about positive social change.
Meet 21-year-old Celestina Rabi who is an undergraduate degree student at the University of Canberra, where she is currently studying a Bachelor’s degree in Events and Tourism Management. Originally, from South Sudan, she came to Australia as a refugee two years ago. She is an outgoing individual who’s also very passionate about meeting new people and connecting with others. She loves dancing, listening to music and catching up with her family and friends.
At the age of 12, Celestina was introduced to advocacy where she took leadership roles in her primary school and later continued to take leadership roles in high school. Being part of these roles motivated her to further engage in her community voluntarily with Multicultural Youth Service Canberra, which she has found to be rewarding.
- What sparks a fire in you and why?
Being in a safe space and participating in things I love. Being with my family, dancing and listening to music. Having my mental health at a place where its stable, that’s what sparks the most fire in me. Also, working hard to achieve my dreams as I am a very creative and determined person. I am always willing to try new things and I walk through life exploring especially due to the big dreams I have.
- What does diversity, equality and inclusion mean to you?
Diversity to me involves having a platform where there are all sorts of talent, and people with different cultures coming together despite their differences. Diversity involves putting aside our differences, where the colour of your skin doesn’t matter. Equality is having the same freedom as someone else to have a say and do the things that make you happy.
- Can you share a moment/an instance where you advocated for diversity or inclusion in your circle of friends/colleagues etc?
At the age of 12, whilst in primary school, I took a leadership role which sometimes involved having to deal with uncomfortable situations. One time, a new girl at school was being discriminated against and bullied for being mixed raced. I stood up for her and took it upon myself to speak to teachers with the aim of wanting to prevent the situation from worsening or ever happening again. Being her voice led to her being stabilised at school, and we become really good friends. This is one of those stories which I love telling as she
became a big inspiration to me when it comes to any leadership role. When I look back, I feel as though I did something good till this day.
- In your opinion, what is the most challenging aspect of working or being part of a diverse environment?
The most challenging aspect is Language barriers. There is a lot of cultural shock when it comes to diversity. Reflecting on my circle of friends during my schooling years, it was often seen that people would associate themselves with people who came from the same country as them or who looked like them. People would often do so as they wanted to speak their language as that bought a sense of belonging. I often found myself doing the same.
- How would you advocate for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with colleagues/friends who don’t understand it’s importance?
It’s not more so what I can do and how I’d do it, but more about the leaders within the community. It starts with the leaders in our community. Whether it be at school, in a place of worship or even at home; our pastors, our teachers, our parents all have a role to play in ensuring that children understand what’s right.
“Charity begins at home.” If the parents are teaching the right lessons to children by telling them not to discriminate against friends and to love one another, children are able to grow up knowing how to best treat other people of diverse backgrounds. In doing so, children are also able to look past the differences they see in other children and instead see them as another human being. “It takes a village to raise a child.” Overall, it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that children grow up understanding the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion and that we’re all the same, but different. Our differences are what make us unique and special.
- Moving forward, how would/will you promote diversity, equality, and inclusion among your friends/family/colleagues/strangers?
I aspire to be a CEO of my own resort one day. Moving forward in such a scenario; I’d have fun activities which aim to bring everyone together. Also, to create more inclusion, I’d spend more time with my friends, to learn more about them. Overall, I hope to always create safe spaces for others in everything I do, where they can feel welcome and that they belong.
- Anything you’d like to add?
Cultural Diversity Week is a special celebration. The fact that Australia puts aside a week to celebrate diversity and multiculturalism is special. Such a week should open people’s eyes more, for them to recognise that we are here together as people, from all walk’s life and that collectively, we can achieve so much more. The more we learn to work and stay together, the stronger we become. I hope we can all learn to respect other people’s culture and have a desire to give people chances to learn more about their journey.