60 Seconds with Vahideh Eisaei

Vahideh Eisaei is our Making the Links Project Officer, an accomplished musician and about to go on maternity leave Vahideh Eisaei is our Making the Links Project Officer, an accomplished musician and about to go on maternity leave 

What are you enjoying doing at the moment?
I am spending each day thinking and longing to see my child! Being so close to giving birth to a human being. I never thought that I will do this one day! I am full of hope, love and excitement. These days, I am much more grateful for the people and the things that I have in my life. All I am thinking is happiness and peace for all children in the world, after all that is what most of us are seeking in life, Happiness!

If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Australia, what would it be?
I have one piece of advice to someone new to Australia: be strong, speak up and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Biggest challenge for me has been that some people think that because you are from another country you don’t have a good understanding of social norms or social systems. I have had people telling me that “this is Australia and we do things here differently”, in answer to simple questions like “Can I see my friend backstage? (which happened to me once at the Melbourne Recital Centre)”

Can you describe a time where you felt discriminated against as a woman or as someone with an immigrant and refugee background?
Studying at university was the most challenging time for me. A university lecturer once told me that my accent is getting better(!) as if it is a disease. She was more focused on how I pronounce words rather than trying to encourage me or give me direction on how to improve academically. She was trying to tell me that I cannot finish my Masters degree. Well, I finished my Masters degree and decided not to go back to university at all.

For you, what’s the best thing about being a woman from an immigrant background?
Being from an immigrant background has opened many doors for me in Melbourne! I can express myself as a professional Iranian classical musician in different shows and music festivals. Also, as a migrant woman, I can be an advocate and work at multicultural organisations (such as MCWH) and talk about issues migrant women face.

Tell us about an amazing woman you know.
My mother! She is a well-known author and poet in Iran. She has devoted her life writing for children, she has made good memories for them: in her writing she always wanted to make the world a more beautiful place for children. She has more than 300 books published for children and has won many awards, but she is still very humble. She does community outreach every month, travelling to regional and rural areas in Iran, going to disadvantaged communities to read her stories for children in community centres, libraries, schools, and sharing her time being with children and hearing their stories. I am so happy she is going to be my child’s grandmother.

What are you reading right now?
I am reading ‘Why Nations Fail’ by Armenian-American economist Daron Acemoglu. My father introduced the book to me last month. I was reading ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama then. I was so confused by the war, chaos and conflict in the world, and wanted to find a answer. My father suggested that I start with reading this book.

What could you never be without?
I could not live without my cultural heritage, Iranian music, poetry and my family! Also, I cannot be without my phone or stay hungry for a long time. I know this sounds a bit childish, but I get really upset when I am hungry!

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
There are so many things that I want to change in the world, but above all injustice, animal cruelty, and most importantly moving oil resources from the Middle East to somewhere else. This will save children and people’s lives in the Middle East!