The corporate world could learn some lessons from the schoolyard when it comes to celebrating multiculturalism

I’m 10 years old and I’m in school. I grab a Vietnamese spring roll from my friend Tash’s lunch box. My Romanian friend Abi takes one of my curry puffs. I poke my head up and scan the courtyard. I know someone somewhere has some mee goreng and I want to get my hands on some before it runs out.

We celebrate Harmony Day in school. But today is not Harmony Day. It’s just a regular lunchtime at school. And my friends and I are sharing food.

I’m 22 years old and I’m in the office. It’s one of my first jobs. I’m one of three people of colour.

I bring leftover nasi lemak I had for dinner last night as lunch. The smell has begun to drift from the microwave over to the workspace.

“What’s that smell?” someone asks. They can smell the ikan bilis sambal no doubt.

We celebrate Harmony Day in the office. A staff email is sent out. A few of us bring some morning tea. Someone (white) gives a speech.

It’s an entirely forgettable affair.

Moving through two worlds

My primary school was in a low socio-economic area full of kids from different countries and cultures. It was here that I first experienced multicultural Australia.

As I became an adult, it became very obvious that my experience of multicultural Australia in primary school was quite unique.

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