I have many strong attributes that help me thrive and keep me working hard on things I care about.
I am 19 years old. I came to Australia in 2016 from the Middle East. I am a person with a surplus of hard work, a small portion of creativity, and dreams as big as the outback. Since I started studying here, I have challenged myself to take any opportunity I’m offered.
I am a hard-working person, and this has been demonstrated by my achievements in school and the fact that I manage two casual jobs and am doing Year 11 VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) studies. I produced these photos hoping for an opportunity to change young people’s experience when they first arrive in Australia.
Moving to a new country is hard, and it is even harder coming and not having any goals in life. In this photo an ant tries to dig a hole in a piece of wood, not knowing that it is not soil.
This photo represents my journey to discover my goals. I was like that ant digging a hole in the piece of wood. I really needed some guidance from people in this new community. Even though there were seminars and sessions about general information we would need to know, there wasn’t information teaching young people about what chances they have, to study in Australia – for example, VCE at TAFE and vocational education. I learned about these pathways after I had spent several months studying English at TAFE.
I’ve always wanted to study at university, so upon my arrival to Australia I decided to work towards this. In the first few months I went to a language school to prepare me for high school. When I first went to enrol in that school an interpreter told me that I could not study there, and I couldn’t go to high school either because I was 17 and would soon turn 18. They said I could only go to an adult language centre.
At the time I thought completing high school was the only way to go to university. I was very shocked and disappointed and thought, ‘This is it. I will never be able to go to university.’ I had no choice but to go to adult English classes where everyone was so much older than me, and it was difficult to find friends.
Two months later I met with a worker at a community organisation who told me about the VCE. I was surprised and deeply happy to learn that I still have so many opportunities to go to university. This photo symbolises my experience: because people only saw my reflection; they didn’t see my true attributes and commitment to achieving my goals in life.
There are huge differences between the way I was taught at school in my country and the way students learn in Australia. In my country we were told every day to study hard, so we could pass all the exams, but here it’s not only about exams, it’s also about getting that knowledge from class and applying it to our understanding of the real world. This makes it so much harder to study, because it’s not what I’m used to.
It also takes a lot longer than it did in my country because the language level required in the textbooks and teachers’ expectations mean I have to do double the amount of homework.
A brown leaf fallen from a tree rests on top of growing green leaves. They are different to each other – one has fallen into a new place which makes it useless to the others, and the other is growing in its usual spot. The fallen leaf is like a person surrounded by people from different culture, race, nationality. This person can be singled out easily from the others who might find it easier to not choose the different one.
It is harder to find a job as a refugee because I lack experience, knowledge and qualifications. But I have many strong attributes that help me thrive and keep me working hard on things I care about. This is what employers must know about us refugees: they should not make assumptions about others they don’t know anything about!
As a young person, leaving my country was like this path. At the end it was dark, and it was not clear what was at the end waiting for me.
For my first few months in Australia I had no dreams to get me started. It took a long time for me to learn about and get the support I needed from community organisations. The service they provided focused on understanding my goals, how I can best achieve them. They told me they can help me with anything I need support with, how I can get to university and where to start.