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At Reward Gateway, we believe diverse teams with different voices, different perspectives, and life experiences broaden each individual employee’s personal and professional growth, improve our ability to understand and respond to our customers’ requirements and strengthen our decision-making.

We love to celebrate every part of our employees' stories, and our boom! Newsfeed provides an inclusive space for us to do so every day. It is the perfect place for us to come together and 'celebrate our differences & similarities by sharing unheard stories and holidays from diverse backgrounds', one of our Multicultural Network's primary goals.

In honor of Black History Month in the UK & Global Diversity Awareness Month, one of our employees Isabella Nwaoko, shared a personal story on her Afro-Austrian experience and how she learned to build bridges between different cultures. Here's what she shared:

My Afro-Austrian Experience: Celebrating Diversity Awareness Month and building bridges between different cultures

Growing up means exploring things and learning about how oneself is connected to the world. At some point, we start wondering, who am I? or Who are they? 

I'm a woman, I'm a man, I'm gay, I'm straight, I'm black, I'm white, I'm rich, I'm poor. There are lots of ways to approach this question of one’s identity. 

I started to think about my identity when I noticed that it doesn't really exist for other people. 

I grew up in Austria, in a very small village, everyone here knew everyone. I always felt at home because most people knew my family, and I never had to explain my origin.

It changed when I moved to Vienna for my studies. A place much more urban and culturally mixed than where I lived before. I noticed that people I've met there had a hard time seeing me as Austrian because of how I look. I was either Afro-American or African. Even when I told them where I was born and raised and where I've spent my whole life so far. There was always the same question in the end. But where are you really from? 

To find my origin, I went back to where everything started, at least for me. I wanted you to meet my family, to see, that I am both of my parents and more. That my brother and I are the same but different. That we are going through our own experiences.

I am each experience I’ve made. The good and the bad. I am each person I’ve met. I am each place I’ve seen. All of these I wrestle with within me. 

Like my dad said, they wanted to build a bridge. I am living on it, wandering from one side of the bridge to the other or standing in the middle being neither part of the other.

I decide what I put on today. Which skin I’m wearing. The circle of identity can break you or you learn to let it carry you. 

So, where am I really from? A part of it may be from Africa, and a part of me may be from Austria. But most importantly, I’m from a family that did not make me choose. At the end, I am both of those places and together even more. 

A brief history

Being one of the two bi-racial families in the area where I grew up, I never saw myself represented in the country I lived in. It was that lack of representation of people with multicultural backgrounds that motivated me to write and produce a short documentary called “Afro-Austrian”.

The documentary focuses on the creation of one’s identity and how it is to grow up in a place where barely anyone looks like you. Afro-Austrian gives an intimate look into the constellation of a family built out of two different cultures. 

The introduction above is an excerpt from that documentary and in honour of the UK's Black History Month and Global Diversity Awareness Month, I am happy to share this full documentary with you all.

The message I want to send with this film, is what my parents taught me: “What’s important is to build bridges between different cultures”. 

 

We hope you enjoy! If you'd like to learn more about our people, culture, and our EPIC approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, check out our blog rg.co/lifeatrg or our YouTube channel today.

Klara Owens

Klara is passionate about spreading our mission to Make the World a Better Place to Work and connecting as many people as possible. With a background in Client Success, Klara has worked with our clients to enhance their EVPs and is now championing this internally at Reward Gateway.

Internal Communications and Employer Brand Manager