From the West to the East and Now Back

Growing up as a first generation Australian from a migrant family, I guess there were certain expectations. My parents had come to seek a better life in Australia. I was fortunate to have grown up in very multicultural surroundings. My primary school was a melting pot of the world. We were all first generation Australians whose parents had come from all over Europe, Asia and the Pacific Islands. I liked seeing all my classmate’s surnames and how everyone just got along.

How lucky I was. I know this was not the case for everyone.

Photo by OC Gonzalez on Unsplash

Through high school and university, this trend continued where I would keep making friends whose families came from other countries, made friends with those who had immigrated themselves when they were children and travellers.

I would say, on the whole, I had a good childhood and teenage life. My mum had been told to ‘go home’ a few decades ago but I was fortunate to have avoided this. Still, I would say there is abit of racism under the rug in the country. I still turn on the TV and see no or very few people from other cultures and amongst the celebrities of Australia.

When I started working, I began to notice that all the CEO’s and those in top positions in everyone company I worked at were all Caucasians. I sometimes notice when I’m in certain parts of Sydney, that I am the only Asian around. And despite being born in Australia that is touted as being multicultural, I still at times, feel like an outsider. This was not helped at all by the west’s reaction to the corona virus and the increase in racism during this time by Australians to other Australians. This association with the virus and China (and then by default to all Asians), is something that still bothers me today and is something else I need to be wary of in my day to day.

Living in South Korea was a nice change. For the time that I’ve been here, masks mandates were still present so everyone has been wearing a mask basically all the time.

I blended in.

I didn’t stick out and this was nice. It was nice to not have to worry about if my appearance would put me at risk of a racial slur. It has been a weight off my shoulders and now that I am set to set foot back in the West, it concerns me again now. Will I be targeted by a remark or be treated unfairly?

I guess I’ll see.


5 thoughts on “From the West to the East and Now Back

  1. I didn’t have the exact experience when I came home from teaching and living abroad in France (basically, I was going from the West back to the West), but being Asian-American, I did notice how different the racism was between France and the US– whereas the French are less politically-correct and more likely to be racist to your face, at least in my part of the US (liberal big city), racism is more surreptitious and more built into the existing systems at play (e.g. political, economical, social). It’s just a different type of racism, but at the end of the day, racism is racism. I haven’t lived extensively in Asia before, but I will say that the times I’ve visited, it was refreshing, yet oddly weird to blend in, but also know that I was a foreigner who didn’t speak the language (or well enough). A lot of identity struggles, that’s for sure, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that I’m proud to be a first generation Asian-American– I hope that your return to Australia will be a smooth one all the same!

    1. That is interesting about the differences in racism between the 2 countries. It still irks me when people ask where my parents are from, like it somehow justifies something in their mind but I’m also disconnected from that part of the world too so I don’t see it as important in the conversation. Thank you!

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