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Refugee Week 2020 – Cornel’s journey

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My name is Cornel Corb and I am a cleansing supervisor at the City of Casey.

I have been working at Council for 31 years.

I love coffee and can make coffee for my colleagues in the office. I love seeing them enjoying my coffee.

I arrived in Australia on January 14, 1989, and started working for City of Casey on May 1, 1989.

It was a hard journey. But I had to escape my country for safety reasons due to the communist political ideologies and my religion. Transylvania, Romania, was part of the communist bloc.

I had to go through the United Nations to declare refugee status and went through a lot of interviews to be granted a visa to come to Australia. As a part of my application, I was sponsored by some family members from my wife’s side who were already in Australia.

When I first came, I could only say my name and where I came from, that was about it.

The first two years have been particularly difficult. When I first came to Australia, I came by myself. I was separated from my family, my wife and my 2-year-old son for two years until they came over to Australia.

Throughout my life in Australia, I had to work hard.

My connection to the City of Casey is through my work and my home. I am a cleansing supervisor – making sure our streets in Casey are clean and nicely presented for our residents and communities.

The City of Casey offered me my first job, after five months of being in Australia and a few weeks of English classes. Since then I have been working for the Council.

I also live here close to our office with my family. I am also a part of the great church community in Endeavour Hills.

Some of my highlights in resettling into Australia was when I first bought a house which provided safety and shelter for my family.

Another highlight was when my son finished his university degree and got job at a local council.

Of course, I love my life now. I have children who are also working in our Council, and my granddaughter, who is one of the greatest joys in my life. She sings, dances, and tells me what to do.

I felt a sense of fulfilment when I saw myself as a part of Australian life. Joining as a member of an Australian church was a great start.

Refugees are hard workers, honest and they never give up.

Thinking about what “welcome” means to me, when I first went to my church, the pastor took our details and did not say much. The next day, he came to my door and started to talk to us, and adopted us as a part of his own family. We were even invited to his family’s Christmas celebrations. To me, this is the warmth of welcome.

I also met this guy, Doug at work. When I first started, I had to drive a truck without much English. He took his time to explain and cracked jokes to make me feel welcome. I could see he wanted me to be happy. That is what welcome means to me.

To explore ways to learn more and get involved with welcoming movement, please visit the Refugee Week website.