"Everyone you meet carries a lesson for you and is part of greater plan"
Country of origin: Bolivia.
Occupation: Director of Filmoteca & Event Manager. State of Residency: VIC. Favourite place in Australia: Melbourne, in particular Federation Square. Biggest surprise when arriving to Australia: Lemons are yellow and limes are green. (Photo by Juan Francisco Boada)
By Trini Abascal
Eliana Jones is an Event Manager and the Director of Melbourne Filmoteca. Through her work on Melbourne Filmoteca and the Hispanic Society of Victoria, she has raised awareness of Latin American culture by engaging, informing and celebrating Spanish and Latin American culture within the wider community. She is passionate about bringing people together and organising events that support important causes. She has volunteered at different non-profit organisations and helped to organise fundraising events for causes such as children in Vietnam and Cambodia, Refugees and Asylum Seekers and relief funds for Mexico after the 2017 earthquake.
Contributions to Victoria
Raised awareness of, and increase engagement with, Spanish and Latin American culture through non-profit organisations Melbourne Filmoteca and the Hispanic Society of Victoria.
Raised awareness and funds to support Refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia.
Tell us your story
I first came to Australia in 1989, I was a 17-year-old exchange student seeking adventures in a place as far away from my home as possible and Australia was on top of my list! I attended a local high school in Glen Waverley, and stayed with a wonderful host family, who I am lucky to still call my own today. I fell in love with Melbourne from the moment I stepped out of the plane and wished that one day I would call this land my home. I even remember saying to my host parents as we were saying our goodbyes, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back. I’ll fall in love with and marry an Australian and I’ll stay here forever”. I didn’t know at the time how true that would turn out to be!
Back in Bolivia I was surrounded by my family and enjoying my work as an English translator in an insurance company, but the dream of coming back to Australia was always there. Ten years had passed since I left Australia and through the matchmaking role played by my Australian mum, I met a handsome Australian backpacker, who was travelling around South America with his friend. In January 1999, my five-year-old daughter and I, left Bolivia for a one-month holiday to Australia to visit my Australian family and the backpacker I had met in October 1998. That one-month holiday turned into an almost 20-year stay so far in Australia and Greg (the Aussie backpacker) became my husband!
My life since migrating to Australia has been full of surprises and learning experiences: I have moved interstate 4 times, lived in Melbourne, Hobart and Brisbane, and returned to live again in Melbourne in 2014. I have worked in a number of roles, including a bakery, a Bingo centre, and even in a design fashion store in Brighton. I have also worked professionally as receptionist at the Department of Treasury and Finance (Hobart); as an Executive Assistant for the Tasmanian Olympic Council (Hobart), and as a Client Service Officer at a Hearing Clinic in Melbourne. I was eager to learn different skills and said YES to every opportunity I had in front of me. Each one of those jobs has taught me valuable lessons, and I have learned so many skills that I currently use in my business. I am grateful to have met some amazing people along the way, many of whom have become lifelong friends.
I have also volunteered with the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, organizing fundraising events to support children in Vietnam and Cambodia and worked closely with many organisations such as the Toowong Uniting Church (Brisbane), St Leonard’s Uniting Church (Brighton, Victoria), and the Bayside Refugee Advocacy and Support Association (BRASA) in the Melbourne Bayside area, to produce and manage fundraising events in support of refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia. I have helped raised, on three major events, over $20,000 for this very important and worthy cause.
I was elected President of the Hispanic Society of Victoria (HSV) twice (2011 & 2016) and with the assistance of committee members organized monthly events called tertulias. Currently, I am the Director of Melbourne Filmoteca, a not-for -profit organisation established in 1999 which presents Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American films once a month at ACMI, Federation Square. Through my roles as Director of Melbourne Filmoteca and previously as the President of the Hispanic Society of Victoria, I have worked with different teams to create events aiming to engage, inform and celebrate Spanish and Latin American culture within the wider community. This has allowed me to establish strong partnerships between these organisations and ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image), the Consulate of Spain, the Consulate of Chile and the Embassy of Guatemala, amongst others. More recently, in my role as Director of Melbourne Filmoteca, I arranged for the raising and donation of funds for the relief efforts in Mexico in partnership with Documental Ambulante A.C. (a non-profit organisation based in Mexico) after the devasting earthquake in September 2017.
During this time, I have also had a son, learned to drive, performed in Playback Theatre (improvisational story-telling) in Hobart and Brisbane and established my own event management business.
Planning for the future - Coming from Bolivia, I was not used to planning long-term for future (even for next week!), as people in Bolivia in general tend to be much more spontaneous. I found, since living in Australia and particularly in organising and managing events, that detailed forward planning is actually essential and the key to success!
Diverse teams - I have also faced challenges in establishing and running committees with a range of diverse people from different cultural backgrounds and age groups, but I love a challenge and find it is really rewarding to help shaping teams and collaborating with people to perform at higher levels.
Celebration of life – We as Latinos love to celebrate everything; this has helped me connect with the wider community. I always find an “excuse” to have a party or a special meal with friends and family.
Spontaneity – Latin American people tend to be more spontaneous. We have the ability to grab the opportunity when it is right in front of you; sometimes the most carefully planned projects come across an opportunity not foreseen, so the ability to tweak things on the spot sometimes gives the best results!
Multiculturalism - The open approach to multiculturalism in Australia, has allowed me to use my creative spirit to find ways to celebrate my cultural background, appreciate others and create a sense of connectedness within the wider community.
Piece of advice
Trust in life - I have learned that every place you go to, and everyone you meet prepares you for what comes next. Everyone you meet carries a lesson for you and is part of greater plan. Many doors opened for me because I was curious and had the courage to say YES.
Connect with people - Join clubs, societies and causes in which you have a common interest; connect with people and help others developing their own connections. Be a team player, honour your word and encourage others to do the same.
Be resilient - It is ok to make mistakes because each mistake is a lesson, but quitting is not an option. So, give the best of yourself in every opportunity you are given and if things don’t turn out the way you expected, learn the lesson and try again.
In the NEXT few years...
Eliana sees herself living temporarily somewhere in the world, possibly Europe; meeting new people; enjoying family and friend gatherings; organising incredible events and always keeping in mind the two places she belongs to: Australia (especially Melbourne) and Bolivia. If you wish to contact Eliana email us at firstname.lastname@example.org