Changing Perspectives: A journey of cultural exploration

12 September 2023
Kristie Febriani Legowo

The MFA DE&I Council would like to see an industry where everyone can thrive, feel heard, supported, and safe to do their best work. Let’s meet the Changers who are sharing their own lived experiences to inspire us all to change for the better.

Hi, I’m Kristie Febriani Legowo, a Chinese-Indonesian hailing from the vibrant city of Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia. For the past 3.5 years, I’ve been on an incredible adventure and now live in Brisbane.

My roots lie in a Chinese-Indonesian upbringing, steeped in the rich tapestry of our cultural traditions. From an early age, I imbibed the values of tradition, ethics, etiquette, and faith. Some aspects of my heritage resonated deeply with me, yielding positive outcomes. Yet, there were elements that didn’t quite align with my personal journey.

Belief that wisdom flowed one way

During my student days, whether I was attending lectures, workshops, or diving into group projects, I confess I erred on the side of caution. I was engaged but hesitant, reluctant to step out of my comfort zone for fear of making a misstep.

You know that feeling of ‘sungkan’? It’s a sentiment that runs deep in me, and in many other Chinese Indonesians too. It led me to believe that questioning the decisions of my elders was a fruitless endeavour, for in our customs, wisdom flowed one way – from the older to the younger.

Embrace diversity and change

Yet, I was fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends who embraced diversity and change. Slowly but surely, I began to shed my reservations. It dawned on me that seeking clarification and validation was not just a personal need, but a universal one.

Though I’ve come to appreciate the importance of asking questions, that twinge of anxiety still lingers when I contemplate seeking validation. It’s a journey of self-improvement, a conscious effort to cultivate a positive cultural disposition.

When I made the move to Australia, some viewed it as a bold step, a departure from tradition that required significant sacrifice from my parents. But for me, it was an opportunity to lean into progressiveness, to champion tolerance, and to unravel the layers of Australian culture (not to mention the fascinating world of advertising).

Yet, my Indonesian heritage remains an indelible part of me.

I still speak and think in Indonesian, my first language. Stepping onto Australian soil, I was struck by the kaleidoscope of culture, each celebrating diversity in its own unique way. My original and upbringing remain my foundation, but with each passing year, I am reminded of the importance of embracing new cultures that can enrich my life.

My tips:

  • Realise that our perspectives are like windows into the world. The more we open them, the more we see, understand, and appreciate the beauty of different cultures.
  • Celebrate the richness of diversity and embrace the myriad of perspectives that make us so wonderfully complex and interconnected.

Kristie Febriani Legowo is partnership executive at UM Australia.

To broaden your understanding of DE&I, complete the SBS Core Inclusion course – Australia’s leading online DE&I training course – available for free to MFA member employees. Access ends December 2023.

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