Alisha Tu shared her fascinating life story with the Naracoorte Soroptimists and guests at the Town Hall on March 8, perfectly capturing this year’s theme of ‘press for progress’ on International Women’s Day (IWD).
Alisha speaks four languages, (Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, English). However when she first came to Australia from Vietnam she was nervous speaking to people, because she was worried that they couldn’t understand her, or she wouldn’t be able to understand Australians’ quick speech.
But in a short amount of time, Alisha flourished by gaining confidence in a Brisbane coffee shop, before finding herself in Naracoorte as an interpreter for Teys Bros.
This is where she met Soroptimist Angela Willsmore, who is the physiotherapist for the plant. Angela was inspired by the young woman’s sunny personality, and encouraged her to come out to be the guest speaker for IWD.
Speaking to the assembled crowd, Alisha was a bit nervous when she began, but soon hit her stride as she began to describe how her life in Australia was different to her past in Vietnam.
Alisha considers herself lucky that her parents could afford to send her to school, as some families didn’t have the means to educate their children.
She has studied at a tertiary level in both Vietnam and Australia, and found that Australian universities placed more emphasis on work experience than Vietnamese universities, which are focused on exams.
On the subject of exams, Alisha had an interesting experience getting her Vietnamese drivers’ licence, but found the Australian way of getting her licence to be much more by the book!
Alisha works hard at Teys, as they have workers from many nationalities at the plant. She lives with family members, and is in the process of making friends in the community.
She is also committed to doing everything and anything that she wants to do. When people tell her that she can’t do anything as a girl, her answer is, “Why? Why can’t I do it?”
“Women can do anything,” she told the crowd, to a round of applause.
“Keep going. Don’t give up.”
Vietnam, like Australia, is slowly achieving more gender equality.
Worldwide, as Angela Willsmore explained in her opening speech, women have been making progress everywhere, fighting for more political representation and social justice.
Alisha was thanked for sharing her story, with Angela acting as an insightful moderator. Alisha also fielded some interesting questions from the audience about her life, and the Asian community generally, in Naracoorte.
Soroptimist President Norma Davis also provided some inspiring opening remarks, and presented Alisha with a bouquet of flowers.
A raffle filled with great local prizes was drawn, with some lucky first, second and third winners chosen.
The night had some excellent catering provided by Soroptimist members, and the bar was staffed by the brilliant volunteers from the Lions Club.