60 seconds with Gagan Kaur Cheema

Among many other things, Gagan is a brilliant Bilingual Health Educator (Punjabi and Hindi) at MCWH
Among many other things, Gagan is a brilliant Bilingual Health Educator (Punjabi and Hindi) at MCWH

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
This year I have been committed to taking care of my physical and spiritual health more than any other time. I am enjoying regular gym and meditation. Also, as part of a project, I am training hospital staff on skills that they may have to use at times when a patient is aggressive or violent. I am enjoying those moments when I watch healthcare workers being empowered towards their own wellbeing and safety as a result of my training. At MCWH, I am delivering health education sessions with some lovely women which is very enjoyable, as always!

If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?
If I had magical powers, I would love to change unfair discrimination against people, whether it is due to their gender, age, nationality, language, etc. No matter what, abuse of any kind should not exist in the modern world.

What is the best part of your day? (Or best part of your job?)
Best part of my job, whether it is at MCWH or with other organisations, is when I get to meet people and listen to them in training/health education sessions. I believe that my participants know so much already, I first need to listen to them, acknowledge their experience and fill in any gaps. I like the “Aha” moments when a little idea of mine during these sessions helps my participants realise their internal strength. I do what I love, and I love what I do!

What do you most value in your friends?
I believe that I am my own best friend. Please don’t get me wrong here! I do have friends and what I value the most in a friendship is trust. I believe I have to be my own friend first, I have to talk to myself every now and then to check whether I am going in the right direction, or whether I am in pain, or whether I need support.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
Find your strengths early on, believe in them. Then use grit to keep working towards your goals.

Have you ever felt discriminated against as a woman or as someone with an immigrant and refugee background?
Overall, I have been fortunate I had less incidents of discrimination against me than many other women from immigrant and refugee backgrounds. However, I am not immune to this! I remember after completing my studies when I got my first job in healthcare. On the first day, my supervisor looked at me from top to bottom, and said, I doubt you will be able to survive here? Throughout the first few days, she continued odd comments and gestures, and I could clearly see she had the same attitude towards other workers from migrant backgrounds. I really could not survive there, I quickly resigned, not because I wasn’t capable, but her attitude towards me and other staff was making the whole environment extremely toxic. I still regret I did not speak up enough against that attitude.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant refugee/ background?
Being a woman from immigrant background, I am able to fully embrace diversity during my training/education sessions. By diversity, I mean not only cultural differences, but differences in thoughts, perceptions and beliefs. Furthermore, going through all the challenges of settlement has made me a very non-judgmental listener and a thoughtful navigator.

Tell me about an amazing woman you know.
There is not one but several amazing women I meet in my sessions, so naming one will be injustice to others! And the world will see some amazing women that these women are raising, I mean their daughters, including mine!

Do you have a song/ music that inspires and motivates you?
Sikh music, that is, hymns sung from Sikh Holy scriptures using traditional instruments, has been the main music I have listened to for years and still enjoy. The music is calming to the soul, and the lyrics motivate me to do the correct things in life.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would like to see more compassionate people in the world. I feel I could give out the message - that the world will become a better place if we all make sure we treat others as we want ourselves or our families to be treated.

Finish this sentence: “We need feminism because….”
… it is for the benefit of all societies!