Fazeleh Sayedi, 22

I am Hazara. I have been in Australia three years and seven months. I came to Australia with my mum and younger brother and little sister. I didn’t speak any English.

Before I came to Bendigo I thought all the world spoke in one language. When we first went in the airplane the lady asked me, “Do you want coffee, water or juice?” I didn’t know what juice was. Before we arrived in Australia my brother came to Iran to help us come to Australia. The night before our flight he called my other brothers and they came to the airport to pick us up. I came straight to Bendigo. It took us about one full day of travelling to get from Iran to Bendigo.

When we first came I missed my friends and family. But I like Bendigo because it’s quiet and also people are really good here. People are more kind here than in other places. I went to other places and the people there look at me like I am different. Now Bendigo feels like home to me. I have lots of family here and anytime I am missing home I can go to them, my uncles and aunties and cousins.

In our culture we celebrate Eid after Ramadan and we get together and celebrate; here in Bendigo we celebrate with other Afghani people but also other cultures who are also Muslim but not Afghani. We have a party and cook food and dance and do henna. There’s a lot of different ways we celebrate.

I was at school at Bendigo Senior Secondary and one of my teachers told me that there was a project to make films and she introduced me to Multicultural Services. They invited me to improve my skills in English and make a film about different cultures. We went and joined them and made a film and I practised so much to make my English better and my interpreter helped me and so did my cousins and nieces and nephews and brother and sister and my English improved. After that film I improved a lot and the next year I did work experience at Multicultural Services and I was invited to do another film.

Now I study Certificate 3 in Spoken and Written English at TAFE. I really like to be a beautician, like work in a beauty salon, like do beauty therapy but I’m doing English cos I want to improve my English. I want to have my own salon and be famous, doing waxing and make-up and bridal make-up, and hairstyles and nails. I want to do it all! This is why I want to be famous. I like YouTube makeup tutorial.

Any time I need help I go to Multicultural Services – if I need help to make a resume or looking for a house or job, there are so many people here to help me.

I feel I belong in Bendigo. Not just in Bendigo, but in all of Australia. Multicultural Services is a place that helps us be with our culture and to learn about other cultures. Our home in here in Australia, it is here for all of us, and this is the place that is helping me make my future plans and grow.