The Gold Coast’s diverse student community is a rising force for young leaders and entrepreneurs. Their shared commitment will be demonstrated on April 4 with the formation of a Human Rainbow at the Gold Coast’s Kurrawa Beach.
Take Anita Kissi, for example. Strong on ideas and ideals, the Canadian-born international student has spent much of her life advocating for racial equality and acceptance. Now studying law at Bond University, Anita’s personal experience of intolerance gives her mission even greater credibility and purpose.
Anita Kissi will be among international students taking part in the Human Rainbow on 4 April, the first morning of the Games.
“As a young child I faced racial discrimination and was bullied because of the colour of my skin,” she says.
“It had such an impact on me, even at such a young age.
“But rather than being negative, I decided to turn it into a positive experience, and one result of that was coming to Australia to study law.”
Anita has also written a children’s book around themes of diversity and acceptance. With the main character of Little Hope, Big Hope being a kangaroo, Anita is paying tribute to her new home in Australia. Other characters explore and embrace different cultures.
“Intolerance affects more people than just the individual. In my own experience, it affected more than just me. Children are especially vulnerable,” she says.
“So, I started thinking about how we need hope, and how they need hope. When you can inspire hope in children as they grow and develop, it will carry on into their adult lives.”
Study Gold Coast CEO Shannon Willoughby says the Human Rainbow concept came from the city’s international and local student cohort.
“The more we talked about it with our students, the more it became apparent that we needed to broaden the conversation around diversity,” says Ms Willoughby.
“What I love about this campaign is that this message was driven by the student themselves as an issue they care deeply about.
“While the Gold Coast is typically seen to accept, nurture and embrace diversity, we felt it was important not only to share that story with the world, but do so in a way that would allow our students to tell their stories.
“In this way, the personal becomes familiar and is universally accepted. That’s the heart of what embracing diversity really is – knowledge and acceptance.
“Feeling safe, feeling accepted and feeling part of a community are extremely important for our prospective international students. The more we embrace and celebrate diversity, the more others will want to become part of our community.”
Almost one-third (28 per cent) of the Gold Coast’s population was born overseas and there are more than 25,000 international students from 130 countries studying on the Gold Coast.
Study Gold Coast launched its Embracing Diversity campaign on Harmony Day (Wednesday 21 March) at the city’s new Home of the Arts (HOTA) cultural precinct at Evandale.
The public can join the Human Rainbow at Kurrawa on April 4 from 7am by registering at ourhumanrainbow.org.