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The power of positive influences and changing your path for the better.

Manny is a perfect example of resilience and changing your path for the better. Losing your job three weeks after moving to a new country might be demoralising for some people. For Manny, this experience only made him work harder.

“One of the things I learned was I excel in adversity. Adversity fuels me up.”

If you ask any of his friends back home in India, Manny says they would tell you he has always wanted to travel to Australia.

“People had dreams of becoming a doctor and engineer, my dream was to come to Australia. I don't know what for, but I always wanted to be here.”

He arrived in 2015, and began dropping off resumes at “every cafe on Collins Street in Melbourne”. When he got a job two weeks after arriving, he found he didn’t know general Australian knowledge, such as the difference between regular and raisin bread. He was fired the next week, but had a new job the week after that.

“If it's easy, then maybe it's not good enough. You've got to try harder,” says Manny.

After originally pursuing a career as a mechanical engineer, Manny found the field was not giving him a sense of fulfilment, and tried to find a way to work in the civil field. At this point, he received a scholarship to go to Tasmania and move towards a “built” environment.

“Initially I was skeptical about how [this would] go,” says Manny, “But….it took me two weeks of sitting in the class and realizing how beautiful a lecturer was, creating these houses in his mind, and bringing these ideas onto paper. And in a couple of months, you can see from paper, it goes to real life.

“So that's how I moved from mechanical to built environment. And...it's certainly made me more fulfilled.”

Manny finds inspiration for his architectural and drafting style in small timber houses he says are always near Tasmanian forests, rivers, and plantations.

Manny is being interviewed inside the first cross-laminated timber house built in Tasmania, which he found thanks to weeks of research and phone calls after first seeing its pictures online.

“There's something about wood that is so organic. Like a tree, as we all grow up as humans, we build our character. Just like this, this house is going to build a character in itself, with time. This wood will decay, change its shape, it's going to expand and contract. And that's what makes me excited about this house, mostly that...we're living in a kind of organism in itself.”

To fellow international students seeking to embed themselves into Australia, Manny says you should just be who you are.

“Trying to be a part of something half-heartedly...trying to just be like others, would not bring inclusivity. What we've got to do is bring your complete self to where you work, where you run, where you study,” says Manny.

“And if you bring your overall personality, your authenticity to the table, you will be more appreciated...You have to express yourself completely for others to accept you as you are.”