Charles Sturt University alumna and employee Mrs Yangi Uchalla calls for unity and respect ahead of World Refugee Day on Saturday 20 June.
A Charles Sturt University graduate and current employee is hoping society can abandon labels and embrace and respect the diversity within our communities ahead of World Refugee Day.
Mrs Yangi Uchalla moved to Wagga Wagga from Juba, Sudan with her parents and three siblings when she was 24 years old.
She completed her schooling in South Sudan, Pennsylvania in the United States, and Uganda, and was three months from finishing a Bachelor in Developmental Studies from Makerere University in Kampala when she moved to Australia.
In March 2020, she became the Workplace Learning Co-ordinator (Social Work and Human Services) with the Charles Sturt Faculty of Arts and Education.
“Apart from an employment opportunity and the financial stability that comes with it, Charles Sturt University has enabled me to realise a career path that I did not think would ever happen,” she said.
“I have met the most wonderful colleagues, some of whom have bent over backwards to open doors to get me to where I am today.
“I still have a long way to go, with many plans and dreams to accomplish, but the fact I am here today gives me hope that I will attain those dreams.”
Since she arrived in Wagga Wagga, Mrs Uchalla has been dedicated to helping others, having previously worked with NSW Health as the Oncology Social Worker and at Centacare South West NSW in humanitarian services programs.
She has co-written research papers, including ‘The challenges facing single female parents of African background in regional Australia’ in 2015 and ‘Connecting to belonging: a cross-disciplinary inquiry into rural Australian Anglican church engagements with people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds’ in 2017.
Supported the whole way by her family, including her husband and their three children, Mrs Uchalla said she is proud of where she comes from and the journey that brought her to her current role.
Mrs Uchalla acknowledges her background as a refugee, and although she no longer obtains that status, she said she hopes that people think about the impact of such labels.
“When I reflect on my journey, particularly in our current environment, I think about the impact of labels, such as refugee, on our lives,” she said.
“It is an interesting thing with labels, they seem to stick around even when they do not really define who we are as individuals, groups, families or communities.”
The theme for this year’s World Refugee Day on Saturday 20 June is ‘The Year of Welcome’ and Mrs Uchalla hopes people can work towards a society that respects diversity.
“I hope we can truly get to a place where we welcome and respect the diversity that is within us all,” she said.
“We all are valuable and have so much more to contribute to each other than the labels we find ourselves with.”