Diversity helps me learn from others
To celebrate Cultural Diversity Week, we spoke to Gagan Cheema, a member of staff at RANZCOG.
Which country or countries represent your cultural background? What is your connection to those countries?
I am a Punjabi. I come from the state of Punjab in the northern part of India. I grew up on this beautiful land, studied here, got married following several days of traditional ceremonies before coming to Australia around 20 years ago.
I call myself Punjabi and not just Indian because I proudly represent the rich, unique culture of this land and the people – the music, poetry, literature, artistry, cuisine, traditions, values, and vibrant history – everything is exceptional; and I am still connected to all this.
How does your culture influence your regular day-to-day life?
Punjabis have traditionally celebrated diversity, advocated for equality, and stood firmly against injustice. They are known for their strong determination and everlasting positive attitude. These mindsets are something that I developed unconsciously from the people around me from an early age. These life skills significantly influence my everyday life; I can face challenges with courage.
What is it you value most about your culture? And why is cultural diversity important to you?
I value the way we welcome all guests with open hearts in my culture. Even if you come to a Punjabi home in the middle of the night, you will still be warmly welcomed and served something to eat, no matter who you are. You may even be given a small gift when you leave! The gesture has its roots in the ideology of ‘service to humanity’.
People from different backgrounds have unique knowledge, skill sets and experiences.”
Cultural diversity helps me learn from others. It improves the balance of opinions and views and dispels stereotyping. It promotes peace and makes our society an even more exciting place to live.