Cheng shares his Israel inspiration

Alpha Cheng. Photo: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

COURAGE to Care (C2C) NSW ambassador Alpha Cheng – whose father Curtis was tragically shot dead in 2015 by a teenage terrorist outside Parramatta Police Station where he’d worked as an accountant – has revealed he gained the inspiration and strength to become a public campaigner for social harmony following a life-changing visit to Israel.

Cheng, 30, told The AJN ahead of delivering the keynote speech at C2C’s Legends of Australian Business Charity Dinner – at
Le Montage on May 10 – that before his father was murdered, he’d booked to go to Israel on a Gandel Holocaust Studies Program for Australian Educators tour.

“Some people told me to delay the trip or not go at all because the topic of the Holocaust was very heavy to deal with so soon after my dad was killed,” the 2018 ACT Young Australian of the Year finalist said.

“But I didn’t want to change the way I live my life and, as a humanities teacher in Canberra, I knew this program would equip teachers like me with important skills and knowledge.

“We had the opportunity to meet a range of Holocaust survivors – people who were on Schindler’s List and people who had been hiding out during the war.

“I became really inspired by these people who had suffered such incredible trauma – more so than what I had recently been through – and yet had been able to have the strength to turn away from feelings of hatred and instead become a positive force, spreading a message of the need for a more tolerant society.

“Before going to Israel I didn’t do any press interviews or external media – I kept away from that – but when I came back from Israel I gained the confidence.

“The crux of it is that in this day and age, the need to spread messages of tolerance, inclusiveness and acceptance of people’s differences is of particular importance, and that’s what C2C does so well.”

Cheng – who is a strong advocate for social harmony, educational equity, anti-radicalisation programs and gun control – said he is proud to be a C2C NSW ambassador.

“C2C does amazing work promoting social harmony with school students and particularly the important message of not becoming a bystander when witnessing discrimination – but they also spread this message to community groups and other organisations, including the police, through training programs.”

Cheng said he will visit Israel again in June on a Yad Vashem Educators’ Tour.

Former ABC radio broadcaster Adam Spencer will host the charity dinner, which will feature a panel including Geoff Levy, Kim Jacobs, Jackie Frank and Sheena Jack.

For more information, visit www.couragetocare.com.au.

SHANE DESIATNIK