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Growing Up Asian in Australia Essay

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“It is dangerous to be different to the rest of society”

The ideas of belonging represent the important and fundamental values over our lives. They most commonly emerge from experiences and notions of identity, relationships, acceptance and understanding. The personal aspect extends the sense of belonging. It is created though various ways in the text of “Growing up Asian in Australia” edited by Alice Pung. The text has a wide range of ideas on how belonging is being conveyed though the experiences and notion of identity, relationships, acceptance and understanding by a variety of well-read plans.

Sunil’s story is defiantly about trying to belong. Sunil was called lots of things, well in fact nearly every racist name under the sun, curry-muncher, towel-head, abo, coon, boong, darkie, nig-nog and so on. Some type of assault followed this. After he would tell his mother and she would just say "Stones and sticks and such-like can only shake your skeleton. Just rise over it!" This upset him even more because it wasn’t even said right. After a while he got used to the names and dead legs. He took the verbal assault like a good sport. The only thing that would upset him now was his name because no one could pronounce it properly. So he would tell everyone that his name was Neil. But soon enough his mother found out that he changed his name at school. She wondered why he had changed it and he spat out "I hate it". She believed that Sunil is a beautiful name. This was because Sunil meant the breeze that blows on Lord Shiva's (God Of Destruction) birthday. After finding out what his name meant his opinion of the name changed. He is now proud of his name because it had meaning while other kid's names did not. In a name book for Indian children he found his name's description said dark one. A saying that has been with him forever. This connects to Identity and Belonging because he changed his name to a more Aussie name in order to belong with the Aussie kids. The name also made him appear whiter which at the time he craved to be so he could fully belong. So Sunil really did want to belong in Australia and in his case it was dangerous to be different in society

Barry West was a bully from Aditi’s school who always degraded her saying, after playing tiggy, he had to wash his shirt because Aditi is Indian and he had her Indian shit on him. She moved from Qutab Miner, which she called her “playground” to Canberra. Kids at school always bullied her after all of Barry’s rude comments. He said “she even looks like a slut” and “Indian girls have no tits”. All Aditi wanted to do was go back to Delhi and escape all this bullying. She made excuses not to go to school like saying she is sick with serious illnesses. Then Wei-Li arrived. He was an Asian who was the new center of attention. Aditi was no longer being bullied. Everyone picked on Wei-Li and called him “piss”. After watching Wei-Li get pushed around in the playground by Barry, Aditi decided to stick up for him by smashing a rock on Barry’s head. Both of them were scared so they ran as far as possible away from the big bully. After taking Barry on, Wei-Li and Aditi spent every second together at school and outside of school. But when they went on an excursion to the Parliament House where they were separated. Aditi was seated in front of Barry alone. He bullied her once again and she found the courage to hit him with a cricket bat once they are outside of the bus. Surprisingly they are not punished but soon Barry reveals why. He is moving to Jakarta. The day Barry leaves the school; Wei-Li and Aditi celebrate by walking up Le Galliene Street to We-Li’s house. At 16 years of age, Aditi moves to a private high school where people call her “pretty”. In the late ages of 18, Wei-Li and Aditi are sitting in cafes sipping coffee. They have become what they thought they would never become: Australian. We grew up becoming Australian, hating similarity, yet craving for difference. Aditi only wanted to belong and not only be seen as an Indian.

Amy was never kind to her grandfather. Amy was twelve at the time. When he was living with her she was unhappy when he would sit near her. This happened because Amy had forgotten most of her Chinese by then so trying to communicate with him was a hard for her. He would go to the city Monday to Fridays to go to the Dragon Boat Chinese Restaurant. One time he didn’t come home because he got lost. After the incident he wasn’t allowed to travel to city by himself anymore. Once or twice during the school holidays Amy was chosen to follow him and set him in right direction if he needed too. He'd sometimes take notice of her help and then forget she was even there. After all this he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died three months later. At the funeral Amy regretted not being kind to her grandfather. Amy was sixteen by then. Amy is now twenty-six years old. A waiter at a Chinese restaurant complimented her mother because Amy was having a conversation with her in Chinese. This was due to her children barely being able to put a sentence together. Amy’s mum told the waiter that she had stopped speaking Chinese as a kid but started again in her late teens. Amy wondered if she would ever connect her grandfather’s death and her improving in Chinese. Amy always practices Chinese now because she waits for the day when an elderly relative wants to talk with her, she will be able to understand what they say as she listens. This links to Identity and Belonging because she changed her Identity by not using English anymore and using Chinese more often. Amy realised that she shouldn’t of wasted time with her grandfather and she just wanted to be able to communicate with him, this shows that she wanted to belong and wanted to be able to talk to her grandfather.

There are many battles for identity in Australia, and have come to understand that such definitions are dangerous and pointless. Identity is not constant, and is always changing. The same can be said for our relationships with others. This is not to suggest that there are endless possibilities, but as the stories and examples demonstrate, individuals and communities are extremely able to adapt to each other. The names we give, the groups we assign, the values we attribute – these are thoughts that cannot take the freedoms we have. We are free to change. “Growing up Asian in Australia” has stories in the novel that prove that it is dangerous to be different in this days society but also proves that it can be good after you have overcome what has happened to yourself. Sunil, Wei-Lei and Amy have all had there differences to society but have over come the distress and moved on in life and understood that it is okay to be different.

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