learning to contribute

Learning (all over again)!

I was sharing a meal with a friend of mine recently who’d migrated to Australia in 2017. Her 3 children were enrolled at the local school and doing well. Her husband was enjoying the challenge of a new professional environment. She however, was still struggling…

As we sat together, her questions reflected the heritage and culture all migrants bring to this land, along with her concerns about how best to adapt and contribute.

She was still finding her way

I shared with her my own experience (though I’d been lucky enough as an Air India employee to improve my language skills ‘on the job’ so to speak. Nevertheless, I understood the task before her – as anyone who’s tried to learn another country’s language will know, there are ‘minefields’ everywhere! For instance in some countries, a shaking of the head indicates agreement… it says “yes, OK”. Here, the opposite is true.

A million small things to learn (all over again)

It is heart wrenching to feel the excitement of a new land and, at the same time, miss your own culture. I felt for her. She knew as well as I did that she had to find her sense of belonging, make friends and connections. So we talked about ways she could integrate (a much nicer word than ‘assimilate’)… find a place for herself, meet people who cared for her.

I wanted to make it easier for her. I wanted her to, if not stop entirely, at least quell her homesickness… that it would pass, re-emerge sometimes, and then fade again.

And not to challenge her too deeply, I also told her that there are many indigenous languages spoken in Australia. But that is a different story!

For now, she has not only the right to feel pride in her own culture, but also the right to truly belong, adapt and contribute to her new, strange and exciting world. All of this makes us richer as a society.

I think she’ll make an excellent Aussie!

Author: Saroj Velho

  • BA (Hons.) Psychology: University of Delhi
  • Dip. Beauty Therapy: Australasian Academy of Wellness Therapies
  • Full Professional Member: Assoc. Professional Aestheticians Australia

Read more about Saroj

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