This morning we were invited to our son’s school assembly for Harmony Day.

As we entered the hall I looked around and saw all the kids, teachers and parents wearing orange colour.

So what is Harmony day?

Held since 1999, Harmony Day is a day to celebrate cultural diversity for all those who call Australia home.

But if it is all about diversity and cultural differences…why are we all wearing orange?

How does it emphasise the diversity of the various ethnic groups that call this beautiful land their home?

I believe, as someone who is still settling into this new environment, that we should embrace our cultural backgrounds in order to honour the diversity of Australia. It is incredible that 45 percent of Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was born overseas.

Besides, Australian leaders seem to constantly repeat that this country accepts everybody with all the differences, so how can racism still be an issue?

Making everyone wear something orange doesn’t make us “belong” – it’s merely an attempt to blend everybody in. When we lived in Dubai, schools and nurseries embraced the cultural diversity of UAE by holding a day when everybody wore their traditional/national costumes. It was fascinating to see proud people wearing native outfits and introducing traditional food dishes so that everybody learned a little bit about the different backgrounds of various nationalities.

The idea of Harmony Day is admirable. The school assembly was emotional and encouraging, with a few words from a Japanese community and a dance group from New Zealand presenting their national dance rituals. Diversity must be celebrated in a country like ours, however, promotion of cultural and ethnic understanding, through activities that expose all of us to these differences, is an essential foundation to understanding, appreciating and accepting diversity.

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