Monday, March 9, 2009

What is an achievement?

Last week I was fortunate to attend the Ethnic Community Council of WA and the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Council of Australia's first national Immigrant and Refugee Women's Conference in Fremantle.

The picture is of the Joys of the Women choir, who opened the conference with Italian folk songs. The lady in the gold hat in the foreground was just one of many people proudly wearing clothing that showcases their ethnic and cultural background.

The speakers and the participants showcased some amazing community organisations. People who had survived the most amazing disasters had not only rebuilt their own lives, but helped others to do so too. It was at times very sad, and there were tears. Many friendships were made or renewed, and there was lots of laughter.

I came away from it feeling very uplifted by the realisation, yet again, of the power of volunteering and the not-for-profit sector in general. One proverb says "women hold up half the sky" and there was lots of proof of that here.

Many of the participants are often overlooked by our mainstream culture. They do not get much in the way of recognition. Somehow it does not stop them!

Last night, my DH and I proudly watched our son graduate with a Bachelor of Music. The young and not-so-young graduates each testified to their dedication and persistence in the face of many obstacles. Each one stands ready to contribute to their world. The WA Academy of Performing Arts has developed some world-renowned actors and musicians. Many more of the graduates will do what they do best -uplift the community with their gifts, teach and mentor others to find their creative side, offer another way of looking at this world. They may not get rich this way, except in all the things that matter.

I am now reflecting yet again on what a real achievement in life is, and how little we pay proper attention to it. I am sure that the simple sustainable life is built in a simple and sustainable society in which we each contribute to overcome the struggles and enliven the celebrations.

Hoping you are the same.

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