Refugee Week 2020 – Cornel’s journey

My name is Cornel Corb, and I am a cleaning officer at the City of Casey.

I have been working at the council for 31 years. It is the first job I have had as a foreman since I came to Australia from Romania.

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

I arrived in Australia after fleeing to Azerbaijan, on 14 January 1989. I started working for City of Casey on 1 May 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 weird interviews to be granted a visa to come to Australia. As a part of my application, some family members from my wife’s side who were already in Australia, sponsored me.

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 felt like I had to work harder being a refugee.

My connection to the City of Casey is through my work and my home. I am a cleaning officer – 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 few months of English classes. Since then, I have been working for 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 a 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 joy in my life. She sings, dances, and tells me what to do.

I also feel like my family integrated into Australian life well – seeing my son made that good integration and married an Australian.

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 Ryan 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.

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