From 15 year old Taiwanese Immigrant to Cover Girl on a Billboard – What International Woman’s Day means to me, Dr Catherine Yang shares her story.
In August 1991, my parents took my younger brother and I, and travelled across the Pacific Ocean, over 3000 miles from a semi-tropical island, Taiwan, migrating to this big country, Australia .
Like many kids with an Asian background, I was so excited to say goodbye to a highly competitive environment, and wishfully thought about settling in a brand new environment with no competition and only fun!
Soon after my arrival and started my high school education in Sydney at the age of 15, I realised that I was literally no competition for anyone at all because I couldn’t understand anything in English.
Sometimes, I would find a hiding place near the school library and eat lunch by myself, and it was here in this loneliness that my inner critic was unleashed, giving me a very tough time. My cover was blown by a kind teacher who ‘happened to be there’ in my hiding place. She took me in her warm hand with a smile on her face and introduced me to a group of friendly girls with whom I had my very first circle of new friends in Australia.
In just over 3 years, my academic results improved from a fail score to a Merit award on my graduation. I was then admitted to study Dentistry with an Alumni Scholarship at the University of Sydney in 1995 then graduated with a First Prize in GC Australia Research in 1999. None of these achievements would have been possible if I did not have the teachers and friends who believed in me, supported me, and provided me with their faith, hope and love on my journey.
27 years later, I went back to my old school as the guest speaker at their 2021 Foundation Day Service and celebrated their 105th birthday together with the students from Kindergarten to Year 12. I was overwhelmed with gratitude on my visit there because of the bigger and wider cultural diversity that had evolved in the school community across the years.
Following my address to the students, a billboard at Chatswood Chase suddenly featured an image of me, supporting the #WomenLead campaign for UN Women Australia with Pymble Ladies College on the 2021 International Women’s Day.
From a 15-year-old-Taiwanese-immigrant to a cover girl on a billboard, I am truly grateful to experience the shift from a competitive mindset to a companionship. From loneliness and isolation to community and friendship. When we can all embrace the beauty of cultural diversity and work together as one, not only we become better and stronger ourselves, but we also can create phenomenal impacts on the world!
For more information about the great impact created through the collective power of small, follow on her Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/cath.yang.549)
Dr Catherine Yang is a senior dentist, and a mum of two primary school children. She is also an Amazon’s best-selling author of her book, ‘STEP ON FEAR’ and a keynote speaker in Australian Dental Congress and international dental conferences.