Tasman Leader : August 8th 2013
19 THE TASMAN LEADER, AUGUST 8, 2013 FEATURE Finding what makes your heart sing Speaking out: Lillian Li-Kurtovich Photo: ANNA PEARSON. Two minutes w ith... Lillian (Miaolin) Li- Kurtovich's hometown is the bustling ancient Xi'an in northwest China, which has a population of seven million. She moved to Nelson after meeting her husband in Auckland and is the secretary of the newly- launched Nelson Chinese Society, which aims to introduce Chinese culture to Nelsonians and help Chinese migrants settle into Nelson. Lillian works as the co- ordinator of Speakout Nelson Tasman -- a reporting system for reporting racist incidents in the Nelson region. She is also a mum. This week Lillian took time out of her busy schedule to talk to The Leader. Where did you grow up? Xi'An, the most ancient city in China with a population of seven million people. It's the biggest city in northwest China. How did you end up in Nelson? I came to do my Masters degree in Science at the University of Auckland and met my husband at the university, so I came down with him to work in Nelson. What do you like about living in Nelson? The fresh air, beautiful beaches. It is safe for kids to grow and explore outdoors and much much more. Tell us about your role with Speak Out? I'm the co-ordinator of Speakout Nelson Tasman, which is the first and only regional reporting system for racist incidents. I'm the contact person who provides support and suggestions to people who suffered from or witnessed racism in Nelson Tasman. I also give presentations to schools, work places, ethnic communities etcetera about the system. There is a Speakout Nelson Tasman working party backing me. The working party consists of volun- teers and representatives from local governments, agencies, police and organisations like NMDHB, NMC, Settling In, settlement support, community law services and English language partners. I got this role in August 2011 when the first co-ordinator, Ali- stair Webber stepped down. I applied when I saw the ad for this role and I think my personal experiences of racism in Nelson from 2004-2010 have helped me fit into this role. I worked in various fields in Nelson after I got my Masters in Science with first class honours ranging from science to inter- national businesses, biotech- nology technician, customer ser- vice worker in a supermarket and local shops, freelance translator/ interpreter and tour guide for business groups from China to voluntary jobs for local community organisations. I have really touched bases in different areas of this small community in Nelson and saw how hard it is as an Asian new migrant trying to live an equal life in Nelson. How do you think Nelson is doing in terms of racial tolerance? It's getting better and better now especially compared to five, six years ago. But racism still exists. What is one thing a lot of people might not know about you? I'm a quarter Manchurian and my hometown Xi'An is the place with a quarter of the centre city occupied by Muslims. I am used to the loud worship they have every morning around 5am as I grow up in the apartment just across road from the Muslim quarter. Also, my husband's name is Ivan Kurtovic, a scientist in plant and food research, and my daughter is Aviva Lizhuoyang Kurtovic, born in November 2010. What's your favourite place in Nelson and why? Lots of places, the waterfront at Wakefield Quay being beautiful and peaceful, especially with a half scoop of chips and a piece of fish from the fish and chips shop on the quay; Tahunanui Beach is the best place for quality times with family; Rabbit Island for the nice summer barbecue and swims. What Chinese food do you recommend Nelsonians try? That's a hard one. There are so many options in Chinese dishes and can be very different kinds of cuisine to please every taste buds . . . I recommend you watch A Bite of China the best food docu- mentary made by Chinese film makers, and recommended by UK journalists. What place in China should we visit? Why? Definitely my hometown, where you can see Terracotta Warriors, the only complete city wall in the world built almost 1000 years ago with a moat surrounding it and you can ride bicycles on top of it. The city wall is still in use mar- king the centre of the city now. Plus the drum and bell towers in the centre of the city wall are over 1000 years old which used to inform the city about the time, along with the Muslim quarter in the city centre, it is the place with the best food and livelihood. When I was travelling in the US, Canada, Australia, China towns there always reminded me of the Muslim quarter in my city. What is the best advice anyone gave you? Don't keep on climbing on the wrong mountain just because you are halfway to the top and you have struggled so much to get there. Find the right things which can really make your heart sing. So I left science for Speakout.
August 1st 2013
August 15th 2013