Volunteer Profile: Meet Amir From Melbourne’s Eastern Hub
There would be no Welcome Dinner Project if it wasn’t for hundreds of amazing volunteers all around the country who give boundless passion, dedication and love to make people feel welcome in our communities.
Every fortnight, the Welcome Dinner Project – Victoria will profile one of its volunteers. We hope this helps you to get to know us better.
Why did I join WDP?
I first found out about the project when Megan from WDP came to do a one-day workshop as part of a course I was doing with the Open Door Leadership Program. The workshop taught us how to network and create a welcoming environment within our own communities.
As a newly arrived person (I am Kurdish Iranian) I thought the project was a great opportunity to be supported in learning about cultural differences and appreciating those differences within the community. I knew I could build a relationship with my community but I needed to learn their needs first. From there I was one of the first volunteers to train in Victoria and I have been based in the Eastern Hub since.
My Favourite WDP memory is…
In 2016 I met two Iranian people at a Welcome Dinner who had been in Australia for 20 – 30 years and I enjoyed it so much – especially as it was the first time I had met the generation of Iranians who came from Iran after the Revolution. It was so enjoyable that we’ve since become good friends. Because of past issues I experienced in my home country, I found it hard to trust anyone when I came to Australia. However, the evening was so beautiful and everyone was so welcoming and open-hearted, despite our different religions and backgrounds, that my passion to learn about people and learn their story, really grew from there.
A bit about me
I am Kurdish Iranian and was born in a small village in South West Iran. I was born fully sighted but lost my sight at age 12. After that I went to a special boarding school for the blind in Iran. Right now I am studying Health Science with a major in Psychology at Deakin University. I only learned to speak English after I arrived in Australia about four years ago.
I also work as a tour guide at Dialogue in the Dark in the Docklands where I lead fully sighted groups on a unique sensory experience in what it is like to be vision impaired in a simulated setting of Melbourne.
Outside of the WDP I organise an independent Community Diversity Dinner each year on the 21st March. We usually have around 100 guests and the dinner is in a different location each year. The dinner is organised organically with help from local libraries and organisations, Facebook, friends and WDP volunteers who spread the word. Despite the large number, the dinner is always held at a neighbourhood house which is testament to the generosity of our local communities.