mul­ti­cul­tural con­ver­sa­tions

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - FRONT PAGE - By KYLIE WIL­SON

A COUN­TRY child­hood, learn­ing about life from her Ital­ian and Chi­nese grand­par­ents while grow­ing up in Mark­wood, have helped in­form pop­u­lar AFLW player Darcy Vescio’s lat­est role – that of an Am­bas­sador for Mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism. She was re­cently named as part of the pro­gram by the Vic­to­rian Mul­ti­cul­tural Com­mis­sion, and said she was hum­bled to be a part of it. “I feel priv­i­leged to be a part of the Am­bas­sadors for Mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism cam­paign, as it’s so im­por­tant to share sto­ries of mul­ti­cul­tural Aus­tralians and high­light our con­tri­bu­tions to so­ci­ety,” Darcy said. “Peo­ple from all walks of life play foot­ball and other sports, and sport has a unique way of unit­ing peo­ple to cel­e­brate what you share rather than what your dif­fer­ences are. “Our sto­ries break down bar­ri­ers, build hu­man con­nec­tion and bring peo­ple to­gether.” Darcy said she had a “re­ally spe­cial” child­hood, liv­ing “across the pad­dock” from her Ital­ian Nonno Frank Vescio and Nonna Lina Vescio. She also reg­u­larly spent time with her mother’s fa­ther, of Chi­nese back­ground, Cheong Lip Louey.

Darcy said spend­ing time with rel­a­tives for whom English was not a first lan­guage fos­tered her re­spect and ad­mi­ra­tion for them and taught her to see be­yond lan­guage bar­ri­ers. She added that go­ing to school with a small num­ber of stu­dents at Mark­wood Pri­mary School showed her the value of team­work and be­ing in­clu­sive, as any­one who wanted to play a game in the play­ground usu­ally had to get most or all of the school in­volved to have enough play­ers. Darcy said that while she grew up in a mul­ti­cul­tural fam­ily and com­mu­nity, ex­posed to dif­fer­ent cul­tures from an early age, she did not feel dif­fer­ent. “I don’t feel like we were treated any dif­fer­ently,” she said. “I never re­ally thought any­thing we did was dif­fer­ent. “It was all about you as a per­son. “It was pretty spe­cial.” Darcy said that she was look­ing for­ward to con­nect­ing with peo­ple from all walks of life in her am­bas­sador role, and said shar­ing per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences was an ex­cel­lent way to find com­mon ground with oth­ers. “I think shar­ing your story helps peo­ple con­nect with you,” she said, adding that it helped un­der­line the con­tri­bu­tion of those with mul­ti­cul­tural back­grounds. “I want to start con­ver­sa­tions and open up di­a­logue for peo­ple to share their ex­pe­ri­ences.” Darcy said as a prom­i­nent ath­lete, she has seen the value of sport in com­mu­ni­ties through­out her life, with sport be­ing the heart and so­cial glue of many small and re­gional towns. “You see how im­por­tant foot­ball and net­ball are to com­mu­ni­ties,” she said, adding that she thinks sport­ing bod­ies have an im­por­tant role to play in stim­u­lat­ing com­mu­nity con­ver­sa­tion. “Ev­ery­one who steps on a foot­ball field is still a per­son with val­ues,” she said. “It in­stills a dif­fer­ent sort of pas­sion into the game. “It’s part of why I play foot­ball – you can bring about change through sport and sport­ing con­ver­sa­tion.” The am­bas­sadors in the pro­gram will pro­mote their mul­ti­cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence by shar­ing their per­sonal sto­ries - re­flect­ing on the strength of cul­tural di­ver­sity in their lives and ex­pe­ri­ences and its pow­er­ful force in shap­ing a more in­clu­sive com­mu­nity. The panel of am­bas­sadors also com­prises ac­tress Olympia Valance; Vic­to­rian chef, restau­ra­teur and me­dia per­son­al­ity Karen Mar­tini; AFL premier­ship star Jack Riewoldt; and suc­cess­ful cor­po­rate per­son­al­ity and NBL chair­per­son Larry Kestel­man. VMC chair­per­son, He­len Ka­pa­los, is hope­ful that by adding a range of di­verse voices and ex­pe­ri­ences to the cur­rent dis­cus­sion, the am­bas­sadors will en­cour­age oth­ers to share their sto­ries and add to the state’s rich so­cial fab­ric. “Vic­to­ria is well known for its suc­cess­ful and vis­i­ble brand of mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, which takes the col­lec­tive good­will and ef­forts of many,” He­len said. “We see the role of our am­bas­sadors as con­tin­u­ing to build a stronger, more re­silient and more co­he­sive so­ci­ety at a time when we need to be re­minded of the great gifts our unique di­verse so­ci­ety brings”. Through the course of the pro­gram, each of the am­bas­sadors will en­gage with com­mu­ni­ties across the state, shar­ing their mul­ti­cul­tural sto­ries and how Vic­to­ria’s di­ver­sity has pos­i­tively im­pacted their lives. For more in­for­ma­tion about the Vic­to­rian Mul­ti­cul­tural Com­mis­sion and this pro­gram, visit www.mul­ti­cul­tural.vic.gov.au.

◆ IN IT TO­GETHER: Pic­tured at the launch of the Am­bas­sadors for Mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism Cam­paign are (from left) Olympia Valance, Darcy Vescio, Larry Kestel­man, and Karen Mar­tini (ab­sent: Jack Riewoldt).

PAS­SION FOR MUL­TI­CUL­TUR­AL­ISM: Darcy Vescio, seen here speak­ing at the launch of the Am­bas­sadors for Mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism cam­paign, wants to use her role to break down com­mu­nity bar­ri­ers.

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