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Never underestimate the power of representation

Last month, I started to teach calligraphy and typography at RMIT university. Like any new job, the first weeks have been pretty intense trying to be on top of everything, and trying to remember over one hundred student names.

Being surrounded by so much cultural diversity, have made me reflect on my own background and upbringing.

I grew up in a small beach town facing the Mediterranean Sea. At the age of sixteen, I had my first non-traditional meal at a Chinese restaurant, and I thought that this was the most exciting experience ever!

During my first year at university, I met a girl who totally challenged my perspective. She was only eighteen years old but spoke several languages and had travelled across the globe. Her life seemed like a movie to me.

Geraldine and I instantly connected and became close friends. I helped her to translate the content of our classes from Catalan to Spanish and she opened up the entire world to me.

Thanks to Geraldine’s influence, at the age of twenty-three I flew out of Spain for the first time in my life.

New York was everything I had imagined and much more. In my eyes, this city represented the ultimate fusion of glorious diversity, cross influences and human richness all in one place.

Fast forward eighteen years later, I live on an island where more than the 28% of us were born overseas in over 200 countries; where a quarter of the population speak 260 languages other than English at home; and where over 50% of Australians follow more than 130 different faiths.

And in this context, I find myself surrounded by young students who will become the next generation of designers and thinkers, and I’m hoping that our design community will truly represent the numbers above.

As a woman and educator, I feel the responsibility of spreading this message across by celebrating cultural diversity, supporting women in the industry, highlighting the importance of gender equality and inclusion, and by making sure we ALL understand that bringing more voices, colours and under-represented groups up on the stage, can only open up our view of the world and make us better.

 

Happy International Women’s Day from a very proud multilingual, multicultural, independent female voice.

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Image taken at my Typism Conference Workshop in 2017. This article was published as part of my latest newsletter called “March 2019: Happy International Women’s Day