Meet the Team – Same Different Music Me

Catherine Simmonds OAM

Artistic Director, Facilitator and Dramaturge | Story is Connection

Catherine Simmonds OAM is one Australia’s leading community cultural development theatre makers. For three decades she has mobilised the stories of hundreds of people across diverse communities, people who become the actors and divisors in the telling of their own and each other’s stories. As an artistic director her focus is the space between the ‘lived experiences’ of communities and the language of art. As founding director of the Brunswick Women’s Theatre 1992 she guided the philosophy of the creative process, as dramaturge/writer and director she co-devised major performances with migrant and refugee women for twelve years.

She has collaborated nationally and internationally with local-government, NGO’s, health organizations, the education, and arts sectors to powerfully address some of the most pressing issues of our time including displacement and the asylum seeker story, public and private violence, trafficked women, mental health, intercultural relationships, identity and culture with indigenous people and the stories of international students.  Her processes provide marginalized people with a creative space in which to ‘discover their need to speak and to speak the unspoken’ which she skillfully transforms into powerful performances that inspire the hearts of audiences, regardless of their class and culture.

Feifei Liao

Managing Director | Story is Connection

Feifei Liao is a Chinese born and raised in China. She is currently the co-founder and managing director of the Not-for-Profit Organisation ‘Story is Connection,’ the founder of ‘Feifei Curiosity,’ project officer at City of Whittlesea, and project officer for the PACE Women’s Leadership Program at the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health. She is also a contemporary dancer, film producer, poet and food enthusiast.

In the past thirteen years, Feifei Liao has been dedicated to building a meaningfully connected multicultural community in various roles as a president, student representative, student councillor and project manager for her college, universities, local councils and the state government. She is an inspiring leader and intercultural community builder champion with a positive and empowering capacity to support individuals to live life fully and achieve career potential with an intersectional, creative, strength-based and grassroots approach.

Add a decimal place in your life, you’ll find unlimited possibilities

I don’t want to be ordinary. I want to be extraordinary

Thu Nguyen

Project Coordinator | Same Different Music Me

Thu has travelled to over twenty-five countries professionally and personally yet she’s confident in saying that Melbourne is by far her favourite city. She has over ten years’ experience in the education sector, in Southeast Asia as the Regional Manager of INTO University Partnerships, and Education Manager at the British Council in Ho Chi Minh City.

Graduated from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and Victoria University, Thu is the new Community and Engagement Manager of Story Is Connection (SIC). Prior to joining SIC she was the 2018 Study Melbourne Student Ambassador. She loves to work with like-minded passionate thinkers to create the impossible and to connect the community. An origami artist, an armature film producer, a theatre performer, and a passionate home cook. Thu brings to life her love for food, art, and people.

Chris Lim

Project Support Officer | Story is Connection

Chris is a commerce student majoring in Management and Finance at the University of Melbourne. He is an active participant in various case competitions where he has to solve real corporate problems given by companies. In Business Innovation Lab 2020, Chris and his team was the winner and received ‘Client Best Choice Award’ after pitching best solutions for the panel judges and wider audiences.

He is also passionate about making positive impacts and giving back to the communities. In 2020, many non-profit organisations were heavily affected by the pandemic losing donations and support. Chris took on the role as a management consultant at 180 Degrees Consulting where he advises the client on establishing online presence and diversifying income streams.

A badminton enthusiast and motorcycle rider where he can embrace freedom away from busy life by visiting different attractions in the town.

You don’t have to be great to Start, but you have to start to be Great

With a cup of coffee, a smile, and a great story, you can change the world

Cynthia Thomaz

Project Support Officer | Story is Connection

Originally from Brazil, she is a passionate and driven business administration professional with a Master of Business Administration from Victoria University and more than ten years of industry experience working in different fields.

Cynthia is an advocate for international students’ wellbeing and cultural awareness. She was the co-founder and president of VU Multicultural Club, a Deputy Chair at VU Cultural Diversity Reference Group, and has worked at Victoria University at Student Life and in the Business School. Through her work, both paid and volunteer, she supported students from all over the world to connect with the local community and assisted them in settle into a new country and culture.

For her outstanding work with students and her contributions to the local community, Cynthia was awarded in 2019 with the VU Postgraduate Student Leadership Award and in 2020 with the VU Student as Staff Award.

Cynthia is passionate about social justice and cultural diversity. She loves travelling, coffee, and chocolate. 

Joanna Tepaa

Project Support Officer | Story is Connection

Joanna came from the least visited country in the world called ‘Tuvalu’. She is currently a last year student studying Information Technology at RMIT University. Her dream job used to be a front-end developer, however she has been inspired recently to pursue entrepreneurship. She is currently helping out StoryIsConnection and VicWISE as a volunteer. Laughing and watching funny videos are ways to energize Joanna when she is feeling weak or exhausted.

Joanna loves dancing, playing volleyball, challenging herself and most of all, she loves helping people. One of her dreams is that one day she will travel around the world and spread love to others. Some of the things that she values are family, relationship, belief, friendship and culture. One thing Joanna wants people to know is that sometimes she can be quiet but that doesn’t mean that she is not listening.

Don’t let your starting point dictate your end point

Live life to the fullest!

Ashlyn Saw

Marketing Officer | Story is Connection

Ashlyn is a Second Year Communication and Design student at Monash University who is passionate about entrepreneurship, advertising and creating social media content that’s both impactful and engaging.

As an active member of the community, Ashlyn keeps herself busy with volunteering experiences from Old folk’s home to National zoo and Story Is Connection. She believes that we are all one and that we should help each other to improve lives. She supports women’s rights, lgtbqia+, body positivity and mental health. 

Ashlyn loves traveling, photography and dance.  Ashlyn also plays piano, kalimba and rides bicycles during her free time. She likes to explore different hobbies as she lives by the quote ‘Live life to the fullest!’.

Qian Li

Marketing Officer | Story is Connection

Qian Li is a first year Master of Marketing Communication student at University of Melbourne who is enthusiastic about social media content, entrepreneurship, volunteering and social impact. 

With a multi-disciplinary, multi-lingual background, Qian Li works in local and international organisations, assisting with marketing campaign planning and execution. She has a great interest in environmental protection, mental health and social issues. 

Qian loves travelling, photography and singing. She enjoys exploring the local sceneries and food stores during her free time

Live to thrive

Giving back to communities

Juliet Wong Min

Lead Designer | Story is Connection

Originally from Mauritius, Juliet moved to Australia 5 years ago to study Industrial Design. Since she was young, Juliet has found a passion for volunteering, being part of a shared mission with other passionate people and giving back to communities. Since coming to Australia, Juliet has been actively involved in projects and non-profit organisations advocating for international students. Currently she is the lead designer and part of the committee at SIC.

Outside of SIC, Juliet is a service designer at The Customer Experience Company (CEC), helping organisations uncover and solve complex problems, design meaningful customer experiences and make positive impacts. As a side gig, Juliet also freelance helping start-ups and small businesses in designing services, visual content and website design. During her freetime, Juliet enjoys watching documentaries of all sort, sketching random things and learning how to play the ukulele

Shirley Yuan

Graphic Designer | Story is Connection

Shirley Yuan is a second year industrial design student at RMIT. She grew up in a coal-producing city in the North of China and is adjusting to the more relaxed lifestyle in Melbourne. Her hobbies are drawing, music, figure skating, and reading. She has work experience in technology companies as a construction designer and she is Graphic designer in both organizations.

Having spent a lot of her younger life in hospital Shirley watched the doctors and nurses struggle with heavy workloads, lots of patients and clunky equipment, this made her wish she could redesign the world to support those in need and those who care for others. In her study life at RMIT, she used her strength in drawing to develop designs and learned about resilience to always keep expanding. Shirley wants to disprove the prejudice that she has experienced in the past and show that in spite of her short height, she will work hard and reach great heights. She really likes colourful, open-hearted, fun and supportive. Focussed on beauty and function. Simple products with busy colours. She thinks she is good at two things. First is strong observation, which is sensitive to every single thing. Second, she is very sensitive, which makes her very considerate of other people’s needs.

Future designer over the world

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone

Yen Nguyen

Process Development Officer | Same Different Music Me

Graduated from University of Huddersfield and University of Westminster (England), Yen had several years working in education sector at INTO University Partnerships and London College for Design & Fashion (Hanoi).

Yen is a traveller at heart, she has been to more than twenty countries in the world to embrace cultural diversity, interact with people from all walks of life and broaden her horizon. Being an expat living in Europe, she is passionate about global education, environment, culture and art.

She loves to work with open-minded people with positive attitude to contribute to society and together create a better future for the youth. Hiking, cycling and photography will make a perfect weekend for her.