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A COVID-19 Cultural Day

Isobel Bathgate, Bachelor of Arts majoring in Criminology with a Bachelor of Laws

Sawadee! Ni Hao! Being selected for the Chinatown and Thai Town Cultural Day was something I will never forget. You might think that doing a Cultural Day during the COVID-19 pandemic seems impossible. But it was really quite the opposite. Whilst I would’ve loved to be able to actually immerse myself in and witness Chinatown and Thai Town in the heart of Sydney, I have learnt more than I could ever imagine in just over one week of virtual learning.

Before taking part in this virtual Cultural Day, I had little to no knowledge about Chinese or Thai cultures. Little did I know that my knowledge was going to expand greatly. What I didn’t realise was how full the Chinese and Thai cultures are of wonderful foods, religion, festivals and languages. Who knew Thailand’s most famous festival, Songkran, has been celebrated in Darling Harbour for several years! Loy Krathong, the water festival of Thailand, has also been celebrated in Sydney for several years. This involves hand-making a krathong to hold a traditional Thai dish which is then floated in a body of water. Hopefully, lockdown lifts soon and allows for these amazing festivals to occur again.

Further, I have developed a greater understanding and appreciation for the migrants that were brave enough to come here to work and leave their families behind in their home country. Hearing firsthand accounts of the challenges and discrimination faced by many migrants when they first arrived in Australia from the Gold Rush period up until today was very emotional and eye-opening. Specifically, the White Australia Policy demonstrates just how far Australia has come to become the multicultural hub it is today. The story of Palisa Anderson’s mother who migrated to Australia alone and sent her children to live with her parents was extremely moving and I recommend everyone checks it out (*link at the end). Palisa Anderson is the founder of the well-known Chat Thai.

Whilst I would’ve loved to do this Cultural Day in person, I definitely absorbed what feels like all the information in the world (and even better, if I ever want to go back and read more, all the resources are there for me!). This Cultural Day has encouraged me to experience and immerse myself in more cultures. The GLP and this Cultural Day have opened my eyes to the world and have allowed me to have a great university experience, so I encourage everyone to get involved with this amazing opportunity.

To everyone in the GLP or thinking of joining the GLP, I highly recommend you take advantage of the many opportunities the program has to offer, and don’t be afraid of applying for something you don’t know much about because you never know where it might take you and what you might learn. Lastly, thank you again to the GLP for preparing and running this Cultural Day.

P.S I am on my way to buy some Thai food ASAP!

*Migration, Family, and Farming | Palisa Anderson -


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