By Regina Wuisantono, Bachelor of Psychology
Opening of the Regents Park line in Cabramatta
(Image source: https://heritagecollection.fairfieldcity.nsw.gov.au/nodes/view/1282)
When I was in my orientation meeting for the GLP, one of the first things that jumped out to me were the Cultural Days. As an international student, I was really excited about this as I hadn't seen Australia at all before coming to university. This opportunity was really appealing to me, and I was enthusiastic to apply. Fast forward to 2020, and Sydney is in lockdown. Many facilities and activities got shut down, with the cultural days being one of them. I was devastated. But the GLP adapted, and the Cultural Days are now online, and I recently participated in two of them. The latest one being the Cultural Day in Cabramatta.
Honestly speaking, I didn't know much about Cabramatta before the Cultural Day. I've only been there a handful of times, and my knowledge of the culture there has been limited. I knew that there was a strong Asian enclave in Cabramatta, they had good dim sum, and I have a friend who lives there. Admittedly, my knowledge of Cabramatta can be summed up as minimal and superficial. Since taking the Cultural Day online, I found out the deep and rich history and how Cabramatta came to be as it is today.
I learned about Australia's history with refugees, and the treatment given to them. While taking on this module, it was disheartening to hear about what they had to go through and the social stigma that they constantly face. How the difficulty of learning a new language has caused them to go into sewing or restaurant jobs. This had an impact on Cabramatta as it influenced the buildings and the population there. The community rallied together and have created such strong bonds with each other. There are some legendary must-eats as a result of this history, such as Tan Viet Noodle House. It is now a renowned institution in Cabramatta, with everyone from all walks of life eating there.
Although I took this Cultural Day online, and I'm sure it is different from taking part in it in person, I truly felt immersed in the learning and found the modules to be very engaging. As I was going through the modules I found myself doing more research as I was going through the readings. This lead to me having conversations with friends who lived there and listening to them describe their history. I heard stories about how refugees have gotten to where they are today, and how proud they are to be a part of Australia. The history of Cabramatta is a reflection of Australia's history itself, and learning about it is so important. It's easy to walk past Cabramatta and to think of it as just another stop on the metro, but what lies hidden just barely under the surface is a history so deep that it still shapes what it is today. Even if the Cultural Day is online, it is absolutely worth doing. You'll find yourself going out of it with new perspectives and seeing Cabramatta in a different light.