Belonging: Overseas Chinese and Leah

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Belonging is a natural human instinct of how we define ourselves in the world we are living in. Our belonging to or connections with people, places and groups enable us to develop an unique characteristics in our personalities. Our perception of belonging is influenced by the personal, cultural, historical and social context of our surroundings. Identity, community, society’s attitude, relationships and culture are aspects of belonging that contribute to broaden or deepen our sense of Belonging or Not Belonging. The sense of not belonging felt by individual can be evolved to become a sense of belonging by factors of the aspects of belonging through experiencing physical or inner journey and vice versa.

Identity is defined as the distinct characteristics of an individual possessed by which a person is recognized or known as. Individual who possesses a strong and unique personal or cultural identity will intensify their sense of belonging or not belonging. In the novel, the China Coin, by Allan Baillie, explores how personal and cultural identity of the protagonist, Leah Waters, could be changed from alienation of not belonging to acceptance of belonging by experiencing physical and inner journeys. In the beginning of the novel, Leah senses alienation and distanced toward China as she identify herself as an Australian instead of a Chinese. The monologue from Leah’s mind, ‘Couldn’t the woman see? She was not Chinese, not even an ABC – Australian born Chinese. Joan was Chinese, but Dad, David Waters, had been English. Didn’t it show?’ suggested that Leah identify herself that she does not belong as a Chinese. A similar situation is also described in the film Avatar, directed by James Cameron, when the protagonist, Jake Sully, who was a disabled person that chosen for a mining operation in a distanced planet. Jake said, ‘so, here I am… they offer me the gig because I could link with the avatar which is insanely expensive’. This reveal that Jake felt isolated and...
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