Last night I had the delightful pleasure of joining my international friends and making new ones at the Lord Mayor’s Welcome. It was a night to celebrate Sydney’s internationality and it was only appropriate it took place in one of our city’s most iconic buildings, Town Hall.
As I walked into the historic venue, I was greeted by a vibrant atmosphere and passionate volunteers making sure the night ran smoothly. To their credit, it absolutely did. Attendees from quite literally all over the world were mingling over inviting canapés, taking photos to commemorate what will be the start of their fantastic journey in Sydney, and chatting excitedly to stall holders to inform them of everything this animated city has to offer.
One of the more distinguished moments of the night was when a role call was taken to see where all of us came from. From North America and Canada, South America, and Europe, to Africa, Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Islands, each location was followed by devoted cheers that filled the magnificent hall. Everyone was here to be heard, ready to leave a mark on Sydney, and it began with their echoing spirits.
Another memorable event was the Smoking Ceremony by John Blair, Didgeridoo Performance by Gumaroy Newman, and Dance by the Jannawi Dance Clan. I dare say, these shows were a first for many of the attendees.
We were then treated to a Febe Haryanto’s speech, a student at the University of New South Wales new to Sydney herself. As I listened to her, I looked around the attentive crowd and started to miss being a student. I thought about the friends I had made, the opportunities I was given, and the sheer amount of support from likeminded people from all walks of life during my time at university here. In my nostalgic daze, I was overcome with sheer joy and enthusiasm for people like Febe, who were just about to start adventures of their own. Though their experience will be different from mine, I knew for a fact they would all be just as exhilarating.
The night concluded with inspiring words from the Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney, Clover Moore. To have someone who celebrates diversity, advocates for more multiculturalism, and understands the importance of cultural history and identity was the perfect welcome for all the new Sydney-siders.
My take away from the night and my time here is this: A person can and is lucky to have more than one home, and this magical city welcomes you to make Sydney one of them.