Saturday, June 4, 2011

New migrants

My library is located in a part of Sydney with a large percentage of first-generation migrants to Australia.  We have customers from mostly China and India, but I've also met people from Bangladesh, Nepal, Columbia, Peru, Macedonia and others.  I love this aspect of my job.  One of the characteristics of MK's is that they carry a sense of never quite fitting into their home country for much of their life.  So I find myself empathising a lot with people who are new to Australia trying to work how to fit into their new country.

Last week in the library I met a lady from Bangladesh.  Her English was not very good although we started talking because I asked her what kind of newspaper she was reading - it was a Bengali newspaper that she had bought from the shop across the road.  She had a two year old and a tiny baby with her.  It was about 6pm at night and so it was quiet and I could talk to her for a bit.

They moved to Australia 5 years ago so her husband could study.  But he wasn't able to get a job in his profession and so now works as a cook to support them.  Consequently they don't have permanent residency and very little money.  They haven't been back to Bangladesh and no members of their families have visited them because they can't afford to pay for them to visit.  No one from their families have seen their children.

I felt so sad for her.  She seemed resigned to her situation but not happy about it.  Her little boy (the two year old) was the most extroverted, bright and chatty little kid I'd seen all day.  His English was unusually clear and fluent for the child of a new migrant.  So maybe that keeps her going.  That her little boy will grow up in Australia and have a broader range of opportunities.

I feel privileged to meet people like this.  I think that they are very brave, risk-taking people who mostly do it for their children. Lots of people move to Australia because they want cleaner air for their kids.  A less competitive and less rigorous educational environment.  They want to be able to have more than one child.

Makes me wonder if I would have the courage and resilience to do the same for my children if our situations were reversed.

1 comment:

Graham and Heather said...

I am interested that you have had no other comments about this. Perhaps a sign that this is a theme that most of your readers don't sympathise with?