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A different future

Image: Courtesy of The Australian National University

Today I have a future but 7 years ago, I did not.

My name is Bashir Yousufi. I am a proud new Australian of refugee background. I am part of the Hazara community found mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Hazara community has long been persecuted and discriminated against in Afghanistan. It is a long and painful part of the history of my homeland and community.

I remember a small memory from my childhood. It was an afternoon where I was playing hide and seek with my parents, as I’m sure many of you have played hide and seek with your parents. That small memory sticks with me but everything changed when I was forced to live with my uncle.

I lived with my uncle because my father was killed by the Taliban, and two years later I lost my mother as a young child when I was only 10 years old.

My father was an ordinary person like us (you and I). The reason he was targeted was simply because of his ethnicity. To stay in Afghanistan, I would be risking the same fate.

After losing my parents, I was the eldest man in my family which made me even more of a target.

I came to Australia as a refugee in 2010, when I was 14 years old, making the long and difficult journey by myself. I arrived in Australia on a fishing boat from Indonesia and will never forget the dangerous journey which took seven days and seven nights.

I was held in a detention centre for about one year.

Since coming to Australia, it hasn’t been easy – I didn’t have a single friend and I didn’t speak English. It’s taken me many years to feel a sense of belonging.

From the day I arrived, I knew that to create the future I wanted, I would need to work hard, especially on my education. The first step was learning English and I set myself a target to learn 15 to 20 new words each day.

I was lucky to be enrolled at Holroyd High School in Sydney’s west. The school became such a welcoming and peaceful place for me. The school and the wonderful principal supported me a lot in order to complete my HSC and go to University. In my final year of school, I was very honoured to be selected as school vice-captain.

I volunteered as a speaker to raise awareness of children in detention. In 2012, I was selected to go to Geneva, Switzerland to the United Nations as an Australian Youth Representative to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. I am very proud of that achievement and was proud to represent Australia – the country that is now my home.

I am now studying a Bachelor of Commerce at Australian National University and I managed to secure six-month internship at Macquarie Bank through Career Seeker’s new internship program.

And although my future is much brighter today than it was seven years ago, I still face many obstacles to achieve the future I dream about. I look at my fellow students who I know I will be competing against at the end of my studies when I am trying to start my career. Many of them grew up here, speaking English and going to school in Australia. They have supportive families and know many people who have professional careers who can help them and give them advice. I know that this help will give them an advantage in their studies and when looking for work in the future.

That is why I greatly appreciate the kindness of Australian people and Australian Government for allowing me to achieve my dreams. Thank you for the great opportunity to study at Australian National University (ANU) and become part of the ANU community and society. Thankful to be able to meet and study with remarkable students and individuals who have inspired me, to work harder every day in my life to achieve a professional career.

To summarise, kindness mean a lot to me. It includes sharing, respecting, loving, helping people and taking responsibility. My experience in kindness has made me more committed to my studies and determined to study master’s degree at ANU, once I graduate from my current degree which will enable me to help build a strong diverse community and be able to give back to the Australian community.

Thank you and with much gratitude,

Bashir Yousufi

Intrepid learner & Magic Maker ✨

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