18 December 2023
Learning curves and breaking convention.
As a young person, Mahsa Nabizada has fit in a lot of life. The eldest of 5 siblings, her family moved from Afghanistan to Toowoomba, Queensland when she was 9. After completing her secondary studies last year, Mahsa made the decision to move to Melbourne on her own to complete her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Melbourne. The move has parachuted her into a world of independence, juggling tertiary studies, being a young person and living in a new city alone. CMY chats to Mahsa about perseverance, learning curves and breaking convention.
A powerful combination of endless curiosity and the learned survival mode known to many migrants, Mahsa immersed herself into the deep end of the Australian educational system, language and lifestyle. Adjusting from busy cities to a small regional town, Mahsa’s passion for community drove her to join public speaking, leadership positions and debate clubs whilst grasping a new language. It was through stepping out of her comfort zone and challenging herself as a young person that Mahsa developed her deep understanding of perseverance, the importance of developing your own set of values and morals and exploring different perspectives.
“You’re forced to learn very quickly. When you break the convention of what is expected of you, whether that expectation be placed on you because of your age, background or your own self-belief, you determine what your learning curve is. And when you determine the kind of learning curve you want for yourself, everything changes.”
Mahsa’s passion for migrant communities and advocating for their stories has led her to many different paths and opportunities. Such work began in high school, where she was part of projects and initiatives in her local community ensuring every voice was heard. Alongside full-time study, Mahsa is currently completing a Youth Internship at the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) and CMY, works part time as a homework coordinator for Embrace Education and volunteers at organisations closely aligned to her values in her spare time. Her passion has led her to creating and producing a Persian radio program and making welcome packs for newly-arrived people in her community.
As part of her internship, Mahsa has had the opportunity to work as a producer on ABC’s Takeover Melbourne, in which CMY is a partner. The program creates a powerful platform for young Melburnians to be heard. Young winners from across Greater Melbourne are selected to work with ABC Producers to turn their story into a piece of media for play on the ABC, enabling diverse young people to share their unique stories and lived experience. Mahsa notes that behind the scenes of her jam-packed life, chaos is met with intense time management and driven by an underlying want to make a difference in the lives of people who haven’t been given the same privileges, resources and support.
“I don’t know if my, at times, tightly scheduled lifestyle is for everyone,’ Mahsa jokes, ‘but this is how I am and I think that everyone should be able to live the life they want to live.”
Mahsa’s experience as a first-generation Afghan woman instills a large sense of responsibility, often felt by those who have a home outside of Australia. The work and study she has found herself in centres the experiences and pressures of being first generation; the guilt of what you’ve left behind, those who aren’t blessed with the same opportunities as you and a profound understanding of how your whole life can be determined by factors outside of your control. The latter reiterates the importance of intention, especially as a young person.
“There have been so many moments where I have asked, why am I always striving? But passion for this work and loving what I do keeps me going. When you care about what you do and you do it for a purpose, its makes things easier.”
Closing out a big 2023, Mahsa reflects on the importance of being human, and not a machine. In store for Mahsa’s 2024 is more travel, relaxing and having fun, going out and seeing the world and meeting people. Her message remains the same –
“Give things a try and don’t hold back!”
ABC’s Takeover Melbourne is run in partnership with CMY, VicHealth, City of Melbourne, and the local governments of Greater Melbourne.