From early childhood, a child acquires ideas and attitudes about himherself and others, these attitudes are significantly influenced by the interaction within the family and immediate environment. Through them we learn out true identity and who we belong to, in contrast when involved in foreign or broader community we feel pressured to change our identity in order to be accepted.
In modern world, it’s difficult to find a way to belong to a certain group without changing our identity, you are often bombarded with messages of what we should be, as a result we change the real us and became who they want us to became.
Our peers and friendship groups reflect our personalities and sometimes even our insecurities.
Language is the major means we have of representing to ourselves and to others, it determines who we are, people who speak same language are perceived they belong together, being foreigner to a new country without speaking the language can often be difficult, Many Australians have stereotypes about Asian people and overall migrants, they assume you are stupid or illiterate idiot, take the case of Simon tong in Alice Pung’s Growing up Asian in Australia, he was an attentive and conscientious student who was on top of his work, who loved reading and fantasied about growing up to be a writer, but that quickly changed when he migrated to Australia, culture shock had a huge effect on Simon’s sense of self identity and his feeling of wellbeing he suffered a lot of bullying and harassment being the only Asian student in his new school, for example he was called rude names such as “Ching Chong China man”.
Simon developed new understanding overtime; he worked hard to learn the language and culture so he could belong, the society we are surrounded have a great influence on who we became, we change our behaviors to fit in with different group, in fact this proofs a critical society makes it hard for minorities to find a way to belong. Growing up Asian in Australia shows how a sense of being different can extremely affect child confusion about their identity and sometimes leads to hatred towards their own culture, take the case of Hoa Pham in Alice pung’s Growing up Asian in Australia, at the age of ten, she was raped by her uncle,she was silenced by her parents and the anger made her hater her own family and race to the extent she thought being Vietnamese was a curse.
Furthermore as a teenager she never fit into Asians or the Australians category, she didn’t fit into the Asian group because she thought she was Australian, and ironically she didn’t fit into the Australians group either because of her appearance, she had low self-esteem and lacked confidence to approach guys, she had so much anger not fitting anywhere. However, things changed with Hoa as she get older, her resistance to Vietnamese culture and language changed she finally accepted her identity and let all the anger gone which allowed her to embrace all the aspects of her culture and tradition, which lead to greater social improvement, improved self esteem and stronger relationship with her parents.
One can say that a critical society makes it hard for teenagers to belong not only from majority to minority, but within minority societies can make difficult for children to find a way to belong, without a firm cultural base, parents often struggle to have children speak their language and learn about their culture, it’s quite difficult for teenager’s to balance the desire to belong to the environment they are surrounded by e. g peers or belong to their family and the places they came from. The desire to balance individual identity with the need to belong can often be rocky road for teenagers, Evidently Diana Ngyuen in Alice Pung’s texts, shows how Diana struggles to fit in with her Australian friends and be the daughter her mother wants her to be, on the other hand we cannot always be ourselves in the company of others, we are afraid of rejection and loneliness so we constantly change by our surroundings.
Diana disappointed her Vietnamese mother by being an actor and not being a doctor or surgeon , what a typical Vietnamese mother expected her daughter to be, in spite of this Diana followed her dream of An Actor, following this Diana brought a boyfriend, a Chinese boyfriend, her mother’s most hated race as a result Diana was kicked out of her parents house and to her mother she was a slut, obviously the judgment of others affect our sense of identity. Lastly, I will wrap up with my own experience, my life has been so different from my parents , I had so many opportunities that weren’t available to my parents due to circumstances, my parents taught me to be respectful to others, be the best person I can be and never give up on my dreams.
Before moving to Australia I went to private school, I was one of the popular students in the school everyone knew me, I felt belonged, secured b my community, when I moved to Australia all that had changed, I was standing at the center of a society whom are not particularly from my background, I had to transform to new people, culture, songs, movies, ideas and politics, it was quite a struggle with little English to adapt to the new changes and feel belonged. In spite of this the friendly teachers and neighbors made me feel belonged to this society, without a doubt it is not always true that a critical society makes it difficult for children and teenagers from minority cultures and groups to find a way to belong.
One’s identity is determined by ones sense of belonging to a community of people with whom with share a heritage, or move to, it is true to say a critical society makes it difficult for teenagers to belong, on the other hand a welcoming society can a affect child to feel belonged and amongst them without judging, In Alice Pung’s collection of Asian voices demonstrates the struggle of teenegers to find a away to belong within society that crtises their appearance , value and belives, and that the journey can be quite struggle, asking ourselves who am i? vs who do others want be to be? And where do I belong? Where do I fit in? change only the name and this story is also about you, all of us in this room can relate to that coming different backgrounds. Thank you ladies and gentle for you time, I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.