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From Ipoh to Melbourne: A Story of Tenacity, Fusion and Cultural Heritage


From Ipoh to Melbourne: A Story of Tenacity, Fusion and Cultural Heritage

31 March 2024

From Ipoh to Melbourne: A Story of Tenacity, Fusion and Cultural Heritage

Melbourne’s vibrant cityscape hosts many stories, but Dr. Raja Yasmin’s journey stands out. Hailing from Ipoh, Dr. Raja Yasmin is a beacon of determination, reflecting the potential Malaysians can unlock abroad. Over her 15-year residence in Melbourne, she has seamlessly interwoven her rich cultural roots with her adopted land’s essence, fuelled by her entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to female empowerment.


The Entrepreneurial Drive

Dr. Raja Yasmin wore multiple hats during her early days abroad. From helming a restaurant amidst Melbourne’s buzz to steering a laundry business in Malaysia.

“I launched a restaurant in 2011, targeting the surging demand for halal delicacies, predominantly from Malaysian, Indonesian and Singaporean tourists. We’ve had the pleasure of serving tourists, dignitaries and celebrities from Malaysia,” she notes.

Her experience wasn’t limited to business ownership; she showcased her marketing expertise and shared her insights as a lecturer at various universities. Determined to do more, she devoted herself to coaching and conducting workshops for female entrepreneurs, imparting her valuable knowledge to those striving for success. Her international perspective, forged through experiences in Malaysia and Australia, has equipped her with a unique outlook that continues to shape her journey.


Empowering Women Across Borders

One of the most remarkable aspects of her journey is her commitment to supporting migrant and refugee women in Australia. Recognising their challenges with language barriers and cultural adjustment, she offered her pro bono coaching to uplift and inspire these women.

“I feel so grateful and honoured to support these women who face immense struggles when moving to a new country. They start from zero, battling challenges, fears and often language barriers. I see it as my mission to empower them, to instil in them the strength and confidence to get back on track.”

Drawing from personal experiences as a migrant, she wrote a book called “She Inspires Leaders”, which amplifies the voices of diverse women of faith, guiding and motivating women worldwide. These real stories highlight the lives of regular women who have faced exceptional challenges but demonstrated strength and resilience in the face of difficulties.

“When you read about others’ challenges and how they overcame them, it resonates and motivates you,” she shares.


Finding ‘Home’ in Melbourne

For Dr. Raja Yasmin, Melbourne has been both challenging and rewarding. Memories of family moments in Malaysia tugged at her heartstrings, but her dedication to her children’s future kept her grounded.

“The culture here is like a melting pot,” Dr. Raja Yasmin remarked, captivated by Melbourne’s rich cultural diversity. A recent Hari Raya event highlighted Melbourne’s cultural fusion depth. Invited by her Vietnamese friend who had embraced Islam, she encountered Vietnamese and Cambodian individuals fluent in Malay after years of residing in Malaysia. The thread of shared Muslim identity tied them all together, infusing the event with an even greater sense of significance.

“I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to learn about people from different cultures and backgrounds, especially when trying new foods. It’s amazing to have exposure to Cambodian and Vietnamese cuisines, which I wouldn’t have otherwise.”


Preserving the Malay Essence

Even oceans away, Dr. Raja Yasmin’s Malaysian identity remains robust. Engaged with multiple Malay associations, she stands out as a DJ for 3ZZZ’s Suara Melayu segment and president of the Malay Council of Victoria (MCOV).

When asked what songs she plays on the show, she says, “I play songs from artists like Siti Nurhaliza, but I must admit, I have a soft spot for Dondang Sayang”. Meanwhile, MCOV vigorously champions Malay culture under her stewardship, collaborating with associations globally. Hosting open houses and teaching traditional Malay dances, she ensures the essence of her culture is felt and celebrated.

According to Dr. Raja Yasmin, the Malay culture isn’t as prominent in Australia as other Southeast Asian cultures. Compared to associations from the Philippines or Indonesia, the representation of Malay and Malaysian cultures is minimal. But she aims to change that, “By connecting with other Malay organisations from different areas, we’re trying to showcase and market Malaysian culture more prominently here collectively,” she passionately declares.


Challenges, Resilience and Embracing Change

Being a minority presented its own set of challenges. “I consistently put in extra effort to validate my capabilities,” she acknowledges. Yet, her story symbolises that cultural differences can be assets, enabling unique strengths to flourish.

Her manifold ventures, steadfast commitment to empowerment and cultural legacy exemplify what’s achievable when challenges are met with tenacity. Embodying her motto, “Say yes and work out how,” Dr. Raja Yasmin encourages all to chase their dreams while cherishing their roots.

If you’re a Malaysian residing abroad like Dr. Raja Yasmin, join MyHeart to be part of a global community with Malaysians at its heart.