This is not a new year post, it’s just something I’ve needed to get off my chest from the past year.
When I stumble upon government housing projects in different countries, I’m reminded of how similar the structures of our communities can be.
Last Christmas during my tour in Australia I met Izzy, a young South Sudanese filmmaker who is aspiring to create positive change for his community. Tucked within the popular Fitzroy neighbourhood of Melbourne you will find the Atherton Gardens government housing flats. It was here we had a conversation about life.
“It was a very long journey to get to where we are. My community, my family, the whole country was suffering from the civil war, so we had to escape.”
Izzy tells me about his journey to Australia from Sudan, before the north & south split.
He met his boy Bangz at language school here in Australia, where they learned english and started using hip hop as a way to tell their story. They also both shared the common experience of having to live around Egypt before getting a visa into Australia.
People thought that when we went to Egypt, we were taking their jobs, taking their apartments and claiming their street. The Egyptian government started sending people back to Sudan. We were lucky to get to Australia.
The Sudanese community is still considered to be one of the largest refugee populations in Egypt today.
Izzy tells me that when his family got accepted to migrate to Australia, they didn’t have enough money for the plane tickets. He gave his mother money that he saved, which helped them to buy the tickets.
Izzy shares that when he was growing up, he didn’t understand the racial tension they would experience as he tried to adapt to the new culture.
We didn’t know racial issues existed back then. The language barrier, our colour, it felt like the police was against us because we were out late at night in big groups. We were just trying to find the light.
As first generation migrants transition into new countries, many end up feeling marginalized within the environments they live in. South Sudanese youth have been polarized by the Australian media as being involved in gangs. There is often little trust between the police and the south sudanese youth.
Looking out of his project windows, Izzy tells me that he’s glad to see that there are more opportunities for young people to get involved than there was when he first arrived in Melbourne in 2004.
If you love what you do, you should share it with the world. We need to develop more care to love.
Izzy is currently involved in supporting his community by contributing his time by making films and building dialogue that support initiatives like Be A Brother; a creative health promotion campaign driven by young African males who are looking for solution to better their life.
I shared the common struggles I experienced when I was transitioning into Canada as a first generation migrant. There was so much about our stories that felt similar.
Hanging out in housing projects
Hanging out in these housing projects, I saw a neighbourhood that looked and felt a lot like where I’m from. It reminded me that even though we may be different in the way we look and speak, we are all the same when we look out of our windows.
After all when we look out project windows, most of us are just dreaming about a beautiful life.
A year ago today with bags packed, I boarded a flight to continue onto what was becoming a two year journey of learning, creating and building within the Americas, Asia & Australia.
I do no justice by trying to explain in a few sentences what these two years of being based on the road independently, has given me personally.
What I will say however, is that from the highs & lows of each journey we are given the tools to find clarity and focus, so that we may write and shape the most authentic chapter of our next story.
After a comeback to the beautiful city that raised me, today I return back from a seasonal pause in creating to continue journeying into my life vision as a creator, changemaker & aspiring humanitarian.
The last two years of my work has been based between the Americas, Asia & Australia to focus on the building work geared towards international experience and exposure. The 2017 comeback season is a return to creating within the Americas.
Have an important and compelling cause or story that you want to share with the world?
You count down the months that you’ve been away for. You scroll through your social media news feed to see faces that made you belong to somewhere & you attempt to repeat the routines you use to do, in the place you use to call home.
You learn to be present.
You see the months pass by & you tell everyone how quickly time flies. Then you count the time as 4 months becomes 6 & you ask yourself how much more time & energy you have to put in. You start to feel like you’re just buying time to figure your life out.
You learn to be patient.
You play music from artists in the cities you lived in to stay motivated. You try your best to connect with anyone who holds any connection to the places you’re from. You stay speaking to others using the slang you grew up on. When they start picking up the phrases, you no longer feel so far away.
You learn the importance of language & home.
You notice yourself falling back into your old ways but now in a different country. You realize you’ve become less productive by being on the constant go. You accept that you will need to manage burn out as part of your ongoing journey.
You learn the importance of reflecting.
You now understand how traveling a country differs drastically from living in one. You pick at your mind that was developed from your life experiences of seeing the world and you use it to navigate the road ahead. Your drained by the constant uncertainty but you accept that fact that it was what you signed up for.
You learn to adapt yet again.
You take more walks to get away & you spend more time alone to hear yourself. You realize you’ve accomplished what you have set out to do but know you have much more to accomplish. You see that the journey itself has become lessons you needed in life.
You learn to become better at being uncomfortable.
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Note from the author: In 2013 I stepped outside my comfort zone to chase my dreams around the world. What was suppose to be a 1 year journey became a 2 year one. After being on the constant move between different countries, you will see & feel quite a lot. You gain an experience and perspective that is different from most people and you learn a few things on how to keep on moving.
Creative change making has now become the way I fuse my work as a visual storyteller & community builder. The last 2 years on the road has been a lot about positioning as I take the story of Hard Knock Leadership to world.
An idea started a year after I was invited to do this talk for my university on our ability to create change in the world| Sid Naidu — Act on Change TEDx RyersonU