Fusion Culture Group
The Sydney City Ability Links NSW team from St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, in partnership with the Rockdale team from Settlement Services International, organised an interactive Ability Links NSW presentation with ‘Fusion Culture Group’, a well-respected Chinese performing arts group based in Ultimo. The group is made up of around 100 community members, the majority of whom speak Mandarin as their dominant language. This is a common statistic in the suburb of Ultimo, with the most recent ABS figures showing that almost 10% of residents speak Mandarin in their homes. This has made it challenging for the Sydney City team to reach this particular demographic.
Linkers, Ryan Nance, Kathy Liu and Aiyub Torin met several times to plan the presentation. Ryan asked one of his previous participants, Kevin, if he would be interested to share his ‘Linking story’ as part of the presentation. Not only did Kevin agree to this, but he also played a crucial role in helping Kathy translate the English-language presentation into Chinese. Kevin was born in China, speaks fluent Mandarin, and has a translating qualification from TAFE. Kathy commented that he was an invaluable help throughout the planning process.
The presentation was very well received by the group, with many of the members taking part in the interactive activities. A warm-up activity involved Linkers asking people to share with the group their best skill or ability; several group members got up on stage to sing, perform Kung Fu, practice Tai Chi, and play ping pong. We congratulated the group for sharing their abilities, and explained how important it is that we view people for their abilities, and not by their disabilities.
At the end of the presentation, everyone took part in a laughter workshop led by the group’s Director and Founder, Sylvia Liu. Linkers asked for volunteers to take part in the activity wearing ‘eye condition simulation glasses’, a resource provided by Vision Australia. We explained that in Australia there are over 350,000 people who are blind or have low vision and that activities such as this will help develop community awareness, as well as give everyone a hands-on understanding of how to include people living with disability in our local communities. The group members all got involved and had lots of fun, whilst at the same time learning new English words and absorbing the important message about social inclusion.
‘The Fusion Culture Group members learned many English words from the presentation and enjoyed the interactive components of it as well’, Sylvia reported. ‘They all thought Kevin, the guest speaker with disability, was inspiring and smart’.
Sylvia invited Kevin to join the Fusion Culture Group, and Ability Links NSW have been invited back in a couple of months to continue supporting the group to deepen their awareness of other people who live with disability, and to continue learning about ways to include more people with disability in their group. Sylvia has also extended an invitation to Ability Links NSW to be a facilitator in one of four upcoming ‘Gestures’ workshops, which is about connecting to people through body language and other non-verbal communication. These workshops will form part of a City Of Sydney Council-sponsored project being developed by Fusion Culture Group called, ‘ALL of US’.