My husband and I are from Delhi. But we chose to come to Wagga Wagga to do our PhDs, as we thought it would be a good place to raise our two-year-old daughter. At first, I felt homesick and experienced a little culture shock – everything was so quiet! But I soon decided to volunteer as much as possible to engage with the Australian community.
It started when I volunteered at my university. That led to volunteering at both the local Council and the Multicultural Council of Wagga Wagga. Then when my daughter started school, I joined her school’s P&C. I’m now the president, and I’m also a board member at the NSW P&C Federation representing Riverina. I have since gone on to volunteer in many other roles in my community, including recently in my local Country Women’s Association (CWA), where I am the only ethnic person!
I have won many awards for my work in the community, including NSW international Student of the Year, the Australia India Business and Community Awards, the 2018 AFR 100 Women of Influence Awards and the 2019 Riverina Volunteer of the Year Award. Of course, I am really busy, but I find that planning all my events with an excel spreadsheet really helps!
After we finished our PhDs, my husband and I both struggled to find a job in our field in Wagga, but eventually we succeeded, and we now both have jobs that we really love. I am now a Project Manager with NSW Health working at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital.
I strongly recommend volunteering to anybody who is feeling isolated or is new to Australia. I find local people love engaging with you and learning about your culture, which really makes you feel special. And they’re also ready to help you to understand many things about life in Australia. We’ve made some great friends over the years who I really trust and rely on.
It has completely changed my life.
Read other great stories in the New Humans of Australia coffee table book: www.newhumansofaustralia.org/shop