They say ‘actions speak louder than words’. Fair point, although…

Some words trigger action
Some words inspire others
Some words ignite change

Those are the words young Australian-born Indian Joseph Kolapudi uses when he speaks to rooms full of children, youth and adults alike. His story, his multi-cultural upbringing and his quest for identity resonate with them all, myself included.

Without further ado, below is Joseph Kolapudi’s inspiring interview…

1. Tell us a bit more about yourself…

Although I was born and raised in Brisbane, Australia, my parents are originally from India, hence, most of my life, I grew up in the Indian community which formed most of my identity early on. I loved to read and write as a child, and this sparked my interest in telling my story from my own perspective. My first job was actually as a journalist during the second year of my undergraduate degree, which helped me to understand the importance of sharing my voice with others.

2. What would you say were the best things about growing up in a South Indian family in Brisbane, Australia? 

Growing up South Indian, I learned to interpret everything through an ‘Indian lens’ – meaning that my relationships with others, the way I thought about my home, my neighbourhood, my world, and even my reactions to things around me were all influenced by the way I was raised. This had both its advantages and disadvantages; but one of the best things I learnt growing up in an Indian upbringing was the importance of family; a bond that can never be broken.

3. What about some of the challenges you faced? 

Being Indian in an Australian society came with its share of racism which I first experienced as a child from primary school all the way to high school. It wasn’t until university that I realised being a minority is not necessarily a bad thing and that cultural differences are actually something of value. That is when I began to embrace my identity as an Australian-born Indian.

4. You studied in the United States for a couple of years, how was that? 

When I moved to the States in 2013, the atmosphere was so different. It was my first time travelling and living overseas on my own and is when I began to truly appreciate the diversity and opportunities living abroad brings. It was quite an eye-opening experience! I made some deep friendships and have some wonderful memories that I often look back on and treasure.

5. At the time, how did you overcome the BeBeyondBorders shock you went through? 

I think the BeBeyondBorders shock I went through was mainly the fact that I was experiencing so many things for the first time alone. However, once I realised that I wasn’t actually alone, but that I could be part of a community which became almost like a ‘second home’, it became an opportunity rather than a challenge.

Not sure what a BeBeyondBorders shock is? Take a look at the article below:


6. Upon your return, what made you decide to move to India and work for a non-profit organisation? 

For most of my life, I always wanted to “go back to my roots” in a way, and discover my cultural heritage and roots by moving to India. Eventually, I realised that this was more of a calling than an aspiration. When I finally moved to India at the end of 2016, it felt like I had finally come home. I realised that although Australia was home to me, India would always be my homeland. Working for a non-profit mission agency there really helped with the transition from Australia to India.

7. Having lived in Australia, the United States, and India as well as travelled to many other countries, where or what would you say home is to you? 

Though this may sound like a cliché, I still think home is where the heart is. Wherever I travel these days, I always look for that sense of community, those people who I feel I can be myself around and of whom I enjoy the company.

8. Tell us about the work you do at conferences, what does it entail and how did it come about? 

I remember going to conferences as a kid and wondering if I would ever have the opportunity to get up on stage and talk about my life experiences some day in the future. During my time in the United States, I found myself speaking at a national conference for work and actually enjoying to connect with my audience and see that they could relate to what I was sharing. I had further opportunities to do so in India, where my focus shifted towards talking about business and youth development. This is what I have been involved in as part of my non-profit work and is also what I spoke about at conferences in Holland, Africa, and soon in Australia too.

9. What is the message you are looking to spread through your presentations? 

Through my presentations, I look to inspire people to make a difference in their own life, and the lives of those around them by spreading a message of hope, faith and community.

10. Which strategies do you use to be heard?  

I have been able to tap into my personal network and have been helped by friends as well which is amazing! Nowadays, there are also many online platforms which young people can use to find speaking opportunities.

11. If you had to give three top tips to someone who would like to spread their message in a similar way what would they be?

I would say:

(1) Be yourself – There is nothing like sharing your story to an audience looking for authenticity and a unique voice.

(2) Be unashamed – People value you more when they realise that your passion shines through whenever you speak about what inspires you, and, chances are, this will then inspire others.

(3) Be open to new opportunities

12. How can people reach out to you and follow your adventures? 

I often post my stories on my Facebook page and also regularly write for CT Australia as well as other magazines and blogs. Follow me on social media to find out more!

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There you have it… Yet another amazing life story beyond borders!

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from Joseph. If you also have a Be Beyond Borders experience you’d like to share, don’t be shy… Contact us today!


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