Growing Up Asian in Australia

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Having a sense of being different makes it difficult to belong

Possessing different physical attributes and cultural customs to the majority can make it difficult to feel like one belongs to a certain group. Groups are formed on opinion and common interests, not feeling like a person shares any of these things with another can make a person feel like an outsider especially a migrant.

Unfortunately, many migrants that come to Australia find themselves in this situation, struggling to feel included and comfortable with their changing identities. However, these differences make it harder to belong to one group; they can also strengthen bonds with one another. The most immediate and obvious indicator of difference with migrant is that of physical appearance. Coming from another country means in some cases different colour skin or the way we talk. Automatically these people are viewed as different based upon the very simple fact that they do not look like everyone else and this makes it difficult to let them feel as they belong. Having a sense of not belonging can mean social exclusion and a person constantly trying to change themselves and their culture to fit in with everyone else and be “normal” leaving who they really are behind.

These physical attributes can mean people; particular school kids categorize migrants and offer a very constant reminder to the migrants of the differences they possess. In the anthology Growing up Asian in Australia Aditi Gouvrnel shares with the reader in her story “Wei-Lei and Me” of her experiences of migration in the school playground. Through this story the reader sees just how some of the simple differences in life, like where Gouvrnel is from can cause a person to feel like an outsider and making it very difficult to feel as if she belongs to any group at all. Insult after insult kids in the playground and at Gouvernel’s school would tease her, one insult she recalls, was based upon her dark skin colour, that it “even...
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