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Celebrate Harmony Week in Canberra

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by Belladonna (subscribe)
Loves going out and about, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, and writing about her adventures!
Published March 15th 2019
Because everyone belongs
Did you know that Australia is one of the most successful multicultural countries in the world? Nearly half (49 per cent) of Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was, and since 1945, more than 7.5 million people have migrated here. We are a vibrant and multicultural country, from the oldest continuous culture of our first Australians to the cultures of our newest arrivals from around the world.
Celebrate Harmony in Canberra

This is why we celebrate Harmony Week, held between March 17-23, 2019. Harmony Week is all about inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians, regardless of cultural or linguistic background, united by a set of core Australian values. Since 1999, Harmony Week has been about celebrating our multiculturalism and the successful integration of migrants into our community.

With the recent mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, celebrating Harmony Week is more important than ever before. In our everyday lives, each one of us can make a difference in contributing to a more inclusive and respectful country where everyone belongs. Here are seven easy ways how you can do this.

1.Reach out to and connect with your neighbours, workmates, family members and people in your community who are different from you.
They may speak another language or languages, they may follow a different religion, they may look different to you, but that's the wonderful thing about the richness of human diversity. Break down your barriers and connect with those in your community who are culturally different from you. You could even become friends! And it all begins really simply on your part: with a smile and a hello.

2. Make it a point to learn more about the rich diversity of human experience.
Read books and watch movies and TV shows/documentaries on channels like SBS, NITV and ABC that highlight our multicultural diversity and the incredible breadth of human experiences as brilliantly captured in works like Anh Do's The Happiest Refugee, Stan Grant's Talking to My Country, Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief, Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians, Jung Chang's Wild Swans, Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz's The Cairo Trilogy, African American writer James Baldwin's Another Country, and Australian Muslim writer Randa Abdel-Fattah's No Sex in the City.
Learn about the histories of other societies, cultures and countries. There's just so much we are ignorant of. So the best thing to do is to never stop learning!

3. Join in and celebrate the many cultural festivals and events held throughout the year.
Luckily for us in Canberra, our calendar is full of festivals, for example, festivals that honour our indigenous heritage, our European roots, our multi Asian and our Muslim and Hindu cultures. Canberra celebrates the National Multicultural Festival in February each year, but there's also Chinese New Year, St Patrick's Day, Christian Easter, Muslim Ramadan and Eid, Diwali, the annual Canberra Burns Club Highland Gathering, Russian food fairs, Sri Lankan Food Fairs, Laotian Food Fairs, German Markets, Filipino Christmas at the Philippines Embassy, Indonesia Festival, Day of the Dead Fiesta, the Dutch Food and Culture Festival, crazy Finnish Games, Scandinavian Christmas Bazaar, the hugely popular Thai Food and Cultural Festival held in September each year, and the World Curry Festival held in the winter. Discover the many different cultural festivals and events in the Australian calendar year here.

4. Try different cuisines, particularly those you've never tried before.
Thanks to our multicultural society, Canberra is a foodies' paradise, with an amazing range and diversity of cuisines such as Chinese, Italian, Indian, Filipino, Afghan, Indonesian, Malaysian, Nepalese, Vietnamese, French, Japanese and Greek. Why not try something different this weekend?
Celebrate Harmony in Canberra

5. Learn a different language, dance, or music style.
Have fun, get fit, make new friends, and learn about a different culture through language, music, movement and dance. You can learn Mandarin, Japanese, Italian, French, or Arabic. You can learn Bollywood dancing, Irish dancing, folk dancing, belly dancing, or flamenco. You can learn Scottish piping and drumming, African drumming, tai chi, or martial arts. Find something that interests you and that you can commit some time to.

6. Visit culturally significant places.
Learn more about our indigenous heritage. Aboriginal people have lived in the Canberra region for over 20 000 years. Why not visit Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and explore its ancient Aboriginal connections? You can also learn more about the First Australians at the National Museum of Australia. And visit the National Gallery of Australia which is home to the world's largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.
Celebrate Harmony in Canberra

Explore our multicultural landscape further by visiting Lennox Gardens in Yarralumla where you will find the beautiful Beijing Garden and the Japanese Nara Peace Park, each garden celebrating the sister city links between Canberra, Beijing and Japan's ancient capital, Nara. There's also St John's Anglican Church in Reid which is the oldest church in Canberra, linking the city with its colonial European past. And then there is the magnificent gothic building that houses the St Andrews Presbyterian church community in Forrest.
Celebrate Harmony in Canberra

You can also go further afield and explore the majesty that is Nan Tien Buddhist Temple in Wollongong or the beautiful, peaceful surrounds of the Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre.
Celebrate Harmony in Canberra

And finally,

7. Wear orange.
Orange is the colour chosen to represent Harmony Week. Traditionally, orange signifies social communication and meaningful conversations as well as freedom of ideas and encouragement of mutual respect. Wear something orange during 17-23 March to show your support for cultural diversity and an inclusive Australia.

For more information on Harmony Week 2019, please visit the webpage here.

Celebrate Harmony in Canberra

"We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian."

From the song 'I Am Australian' written by Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton

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Why? Because a multicultural Australia is worth celebrating!
When: From March 17-23, 2019
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