Migrants Day more important than ever after siege
FRENCH expatriate Marie Daix says Australia is leading the way in countering racism.
The woman - who now lives in Gladstone - said she was surprised to watch the #I'llRideWithYou trend take hold across the country in the wake of tragedy in Sydney this week.
"When I heard what was happening, like everyone, I was scared for the hostages but also about how people would react," she said.
"I thought I knew what would happen, and I was wrong. I was very happy to be wrong."
The Observer spoke to Ms Daix ahead of International Migrants Day on Thursday.
Ms Daix, 26, said Australians were working well to combat the fear-mongering tactics on which terrorists fed.
"I hope other countries look to Australia for guidance in the future," she said.
The project officer at Welcoming Intercultural Neighbours (WIN) said her experiences of Gladstone typified the city as tolerant, inviting and diverse.
"I was quite surprised when I came here in January. I thought to myself 'I must be the only French person here'," she laughed.
"But in the time since I've met so many other French people.
"I live with an Italian, the director of WIN is Polish and I don't think there is a culture we haven't seen come through the door."
Yesterday for lunch, Ms Daix was meeting with fellow migrant Sara Spezza, who calls herself a "citizen of the world".
Like many others who integrate domestically and internationally, employment was Gladstone's biggest drawcard for Mrs Spezza.
"I have lived in Italy, Venezuela, the UK and now Australia," she said.
"I think individuals are beginning to identify more as people rather than through the country they live in.
"People are becoming more worldly and multicultural every day."
Mrs Spezza said adjusting to life in Australia had been a relatively easy process.
"We (my husband and I) are really enjoying Gladstone," she said. "Making it our home has not been hard."
The pair agreed that immersing in a variety of cultures was an enriching experience.
"You get to touch a lot of cultures through food and culture and understanding," Mrs Spezza said.
"It opens your mind to a new way of the world and in turn you become smarter because of it," Ms Daix added.
WIN offers a multitude of services to assist multicultural families and individuals engage in the Gladstone community.
Visit the office at 10 Tank St for more information.