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In Australia I Will Be… profiles some of the hard-working migrants who are integrating into Australian society and making a positive impact on those around them.

“In Australia I will be…” is a series of stories collected in collaboration with the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) at North Metropolitan TAFE. Four AMEP students underwent a series of storytelling workshops at the Centre for Stories to learn the art of positive storytelling to empower them for training and employment opportunities.

These stories profile some of the hard-working migrants who are integrating into Australian society and making a positive impact on those around them.

Zhanna Needhman is an accountant and photographer from Russia who moved to Perth in 2018.

Young woman with black hair and green eyes stands in front of a blue wall and looks away.

[Transcript]

My name is Zhanna and I came to Australia just about two years ago from Russia. Someone said that we all are writers of scenario, directors and actors in the movie of our own lives. I really like this metaphor. It makes me feel that we can always change scenarios and try and play another role.

I am the only child in our family and I really love my parents. I was a very creative and imaginative girl. I remember I was always drawing something and designing something and my parents still keep in all these albums, my creativity. So, sometimes when I’m visiting them I’m watching at my job and I really feel a bit sad.

My strength could be a very good intro into my life story, but nobody knows the recipe of perfect parenthood and, my parents unfortunately didn’t know too. They always wanted me to be a good girl and do everything right, according to their own opinions and their own values. Because my parents knew what I need and I wanted to make them happy so I wasn’t able to say no when they pressed me with the choosing of my profession of accountant. They were sure (and actually I agree with this) that accountant is like insurance, that you always will have a job. And actually they were right. But my parents’ generation wasn’t easy and they never thought about happiness and satisfaction at work.

Well, as a result I became a financial worker and accountant. After that, during more than fifteen years I was sitting in front of a computer at work and every day asking myself what am I doing with my life? Sometimes I felt like to stand up and just run away from this work. I felt like my energy was really dying and I was very worried that I’d wasted my lifetime at work that actually I don’t like, and do things that are actually not mine.

At the same time, I began to betray myself, to think that I’m actually not so good in creation and arts and maybe all of these papers around me with numerals and accounts are really my things that I can do well. Now, I think that that time was my most dramatic time in my life because I wasn’t happy in my previous marriage and I wasn’t happy at work. I wasn’t confident as a woman, as a person, as a professional and every day I felt that I wasn’t playing my own role – my real, natural role in my life.

But one day, everything changed. At my workplace, where I was a bookkeeper or accountant, the general manager was searching for a person who could be able, very quickly with timed deadlines to organise the participation of our company in a big, regional exhibition. That was the first time when he decided to take part in the exhibition and actually, there was nobody in the staff specialised for this role. When I put up my hand and said that I could do it, it was like instinct in the call of my soul. Well, I surprised myself, honestly. I had just about two weeks to prepare everything, to create the main idea of our stand and to find everything necessary. It was really a big challenge to me, but all my creative and imaginative skills suddenly woke up and didn’t let me sleep. I developed the idea and style of our stand. Unfortunately, I had to find someone who could make a glass, rotating showcase with lighting very quickly. I called to a few companies but they said, “No, sorry. We can’t do it so quickly.” I was in panic because there wasn’t enough time to change my main idea. And I found one more company. That was funny, the owner of this company was a man whom I knew before. About three years ago, he invited me for a date and I didn’t like him and I said to him, “No, thank you.” But now I had to call him and ask him to help. So, I called him and said something like, “Hi, this is Zhanna, do you remember me? Are you still interested in a date with me? So now I’m saying to you yes, but you must help me.” That was a really funny conversation, we were laughing. He has a very good sense of humour, but also he had a wife at that moment, he was married. And he said, “Thank you for your delayed answer for a date, I am very happy but not sure that my wife will be happy.” But anyway, he helped me and he did everything on time and finally everything was ready for the exhibition. I was so happy. I remember that day, there was a big hall, exhibition hall, with many people around and our stand was really good. We represented agricultural holding and our stand was designed in this style. I found natural cotton bags with traditional Russian prints on. And also I found, I don’t know how, but I found the real stalks of wheat and we put all those things into the rotating glass showcase. And there was lighting rotating and it was a really good visual effect. After the exhibition, the general manager was really appreciative of my job and he asked to move all these things from the exhibition to the main hall of our office.

After that, every morning when I came into the office, I saw that picture of my own success. I proved to myself that I can do something really well. Something that I liked to do and something that I was happy with. But, after that unfortunately I went back to my usual work as a bookkeeper but the idea to change something was still like a flame in my heart. Later, I found my hobby as a photographer. I completed a course of photography and that was like a little step to my transformation as a person and my personality. Now, I am in Australia and my destiny changed the set of my life performance. I feel like I am writing a new scenario with my new but happy role. I’ve got a big chance to change my profession. Every day in Australia is like my new work in my scenario text. But now, I think for my soul, it sounds like a new poem of my life. So, now I am a newcomer in Australia and I am looking for a job that will feed my creativity and my soul.

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