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Using diversity as a strength, seeking balance and building a bond through sport.

International high school student.

Law student.

Lawyer.

Cricket club President.

These are just some of the major titles Harpreet Gill has held since moving to Australia from Malaysia as a teenager in 2005.

She now works for the Tasmanian State Government, managing Tasmania’s international education portfolio. Harpreet says the reason she’s gotten many of her opportunities is because she’s embraced her uniqueness, especially since she moved from Victoria to Tasmania during her university studies.

“I think a lot of students, when they come to Australia...or any other foreign country, for that matter, they tend to feel like they're very different. And yes, surely you're different based on your experience and things like that, but it's also quite unique,” says Harpreet.

“You should really be embracing that [uniqueness] rather than seeing it as a weakness. I think that was probably one of the main lessons that I learned.

“And people, once they realize that you're different and unique, they embrace you here.”

“It's a global community now, so your differences [are] what’s going to help you.”

Harpreet was one of the first members of her family to attend university, and began studying law in Victoria after graduating from high school in the state. However, the study-load, work, and inaccessibility of easy travel left her feeling “disconnected and lost”.

Rather than give up, Harpreet chose to move to Tasmania, where she continued studying law at the University of Tasmania.

“Everything changed...It's a really good school that also had better access.

“Lecturers had an open door policy...If I had a question I was not sure about, I could just turn up and my questions [would] get answered,” says Harpreet.

As with any successful move, the local community played a big part in Harpreet’s new life in Tasmania.

“My friends really embraced me...They had their networks, they've been here forever, so it was a really good experience for me being at uni, and slowly I built up my network and community from there...I quite enjoyed that.”

These days, a big part of Harpreet’s friendship group comes from her involvement in cricket. Before she moved to Tasmania, she had no experience with the sport.

“There was no cricket in Malaysia so I had no idea, but when I came to Australia and...to Tasmania, I had friends who were interested in cricket, so I used to go to the club with them, and slowly I started being involved in the club… and in the community.

“I was part of the first multicultural cricket club in Tasmania called the Summerleas Eagles. I was also the first female president of a men's cricket club in that league, and I think the league has been going on for over 130 years.”

Harpreet has seen how sport can bring people together, as people from over the world play in Australian cricket clubs, which she says has been a great opportunity for cross-cultural understanding.

“It was interesting that all the people look different, they speak differently, [but] their interests were the same, their passion was still cricket. So it was a really nice way for everyone to come together."

In her current job, Harpreet uses her experience as an international student to relate to the international student community and the struggles they might be facing. She says Tasmania, and Hobart in particular, has changed a lot during the past 10 to 12 years. From a state where everybody grew up together, it has become a state open to people from “all walks of life”.

“People here are lovely. They're friendly, they're accepting, they also want to know about you, and you just have to break the barrier by finding something in common to start the conversation with. Learn a bit of footy and have a chat to someone about footy. That's what I do. Or cricket.

“There's just so many similarities that people can just use to break down the initial barriers, and then you just realise that you're not any different.”