Name: Could you please introduce yourself?

I’m Khalida Ahmad and in one word I define myself as a feminist. When I call myself a feminist, it’s not just about advocating for the same rights, but also about embracing the same responsibilities. I work for the Australian Defence Forces. In my role at the ADF, I oversee the distribution of soldiers’ accessories and medals, ensuring they get issued items commensurate with their ranks and assignments. It’s a privilege to work for Australia and its soldiers, wherever they may be based, within Australia or outside its borders. 

Location: Where in Sydney are you currently residing?

I live in Bankstown, a charming city in southwestern Sydney. It offers a blend of markets, dining, and serene green spaces like Bankstown Gardens and Paul Keating Park. With a rich cultural scene, including theaters, the library, and art events, there’s always something to explore. People willing to participate in recreational activities can head to Bankstown Sports Club. The city’s unity, compassion, and diverse culture make it truly special. 

Origin: Where are you originally from, and what brought you to Sydney?

I am originally from Allahabad. I completed my graduation from Allahabad University and then pursued my Masters, M.Phil, and Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). While pursuing Ph.D I was in the process of applying for a Ford Foundation scholarship to study in Australia. Then, my mother realized it would be better to get me married, and thanks to my sister-in-law and my mother’s kindness, I got married to an Indian-origin Australian citizen. So, I did not face the kind of difficulties that students usually face when they come here. Basically, the truth is that I didn’t have any other option. After spending 8-9 years in JNU and Delhi, coming to a foreign country was inevitable for me, so I came. 

Motivation: What inspired you to embark on your journey to Australia?

 While my move to Australia wasn’t a well planned. But yes, the moment the opportunity presented itself, thoughts of a superior quality of life and a safe, stable environment immediately came to mind. The country’s strong educational institutions and abundant job opportunities were particularly enticing. The prospect of building a fulfilling career while being surrounded by such a vibrant culture was the driving force behind my decision to migrate to Australia

Challenges & Triumphs: Could you share a challenge you’ve faced since arriving in Sydney, and how you overcame it?

When challenges arise, I tend to panic, but my hope never wavers. I began engaging more with my children. Started taking them to parks and play groups. Made some new friends, some were family friends. I joined two different communities and actively and physically participated. As the kids grew up and my youngest started school, I began working in the childcare industry. Then, I worked in the fashion industry and now I am a Defence personnel. Life is never easy for anyone, just the challenges differ. I am immensely grateful for my daughters, my family, my friends, who supported me at a time when even meditation couldn’t stabilize my heart and mind. Many thanks to my own positive thinking, which never lets me give up. 

Positive Perspective: How do you maintain a positive outlook in the face of challenges?

Sydney’s proved to be so welcoming that I never faced any trouble with the city or its people. However, the biggest challenge I encountered when I moved here in 2008 was staying indoors 24/7. I was pursuing my Ph.D in India while working part-time as a scriptwriter for Gyan Darshan and Doordarshan. I never thought I would end up confined to my home. It felt like I was taking a step backward. But there were no immediate solutions, so I started going to Campsie library. Since books and study have always been my medicine, I began to feel better. I learned to cook and prepared myself for a new lifestyle. Then, after a year or two, I started taking admission in courses one by one to secure my future. I studied English as a second language in my school, so I struggled to express myself, but hats off to the people of Sydney who never had any difficulty understanding me. 

Favorite Spot: Do you have a favorite place in Sydney that you enjoy spending time at?

 Everything in Sydney is just stunning! Whether it’s the beaches or coastal trails, the Blue Mountains or the Royal National Park. Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, and the Australian Museum, all are fantastic places to explore. We make sure to visit Raging Waters Sydney at least once every summer. I’ve never been to Palm Beach, so it’s definitely on my list for the upcoming summer holidays. 

Cultural Connection: Are there any specific cultural traditions or practices you’ve brought with you to Sydney?

Since childhood, I’ve lived in a neighborhood surrounded by families from diverse cultures, fostering continuous interaction and friendships. Perhaps, this is the very best attribute of India that I brought with me. Treating others with love and being there when needed – that’s the simple principle behind my contribution to a healthy society. And the platform of IIS sets a stellar example of this culture. Whenever I’m in a fix and I turn to the IIS family for advice, everyone steps in to help. It’s in moments like these that I truly feel the essence of India. 

Fun & Leisure: What’s your go-to way to unwind and have fun in the city?

The best fun time for me and my girls is going to Dymocks to explore books, as we all love reading. We spend a few hours on its different levels and sections of various books. We explore and pick out our favorites. Sometimes we head to Starbucks in the city or try out a new restaurant for an adventure. We take a morning walk and have our breakfast on the way back home. If I get the chance to go alone, I personally love sitting quietly on the steps of the Opera House. 

Message to Newcomers: If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to Sydney, what would it be?

 it’s essential to be outspoken and unafraid to ask questions. Hard work is the foundation of success, so always put in your best effort. Keep your skills updated to stay competitive in your field. Building meaningful friendships is crucial for personal and professional support. And most importantly, never compromise on your career aspirations. Stay committed to your goals and make decisions that align with your long-term vision.

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