When I first came to Australia, I never felt like I belonged. No matter how much I tried, there was always something missing. I didn’t know what it was. Then, a few months ago, I went back to Iraq. I was very excited. I thought I would be going to a place where I belonged 100%. But then when I got there, I felt exactly the same way, that I was like everyone else but that there was something different. Finally, I realised that the things that you experience shape you, and that it’s hard for those who haven’t had those experiences to understand you.
One day, at the airport in Queensland, I was talking to my Mum on the phone in Arabic and there was an older gentleman and he started swearing at me. After I hung up, he said, ‘Is that Arabic? This is Australia so speak English!’ Then he started shouting that he didn’t want to sit next to me on the plane.
But I remember another time, when I was leaving for Iraq, there was a very tough looking immigration official and I was worried he was going to interrogate me about why I was travelling to Iraq. Then the woman in front of me started crying because she was leaving her husband, and the official pulled her aside to give her a tissue.
At that moment, I realised that no matter how much some people are against migrants, there will always be people who show humanity.
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That you have the good grace to call him a “gentleman” is testament to your character. I admire your ability to find the positives in a world that’s in so much trouble.
Maybe the older “gentleman” should have been speaking one of our many Aboriginal languages….. he was in no position to throw stones.
I love hearing all the different languages in our country and admire anyone who speaks more than one. I hope more people than not show you understanding here
You will belong where your heart is and it sounds like your heart is split between 2 places now. It must be so difficult for you. I hope the time comes that you feel comfortable enough to let your heart belong to Australia, knowing that a little bit of it will always belong to Iraq.
What a horrible old man, you were on the phone to your mother, he should mind his own business and why should anyone give up their heritage??? What’s so offensive about speaking another language? No one’s says anything when tourists speak their native tongue. You should’ve told him to piss off like a aussie lol.
I work with people from Iran, Sri Lanka, India, China, Serbia, Macedonia and Australia. I love what our workplace teaches me, all the different cultures, religions and food. And for me, listening to them all speaking in their native language is magical.
I say welcome to you, and I hope that you find people who can see and hear you just as you are ????????
My mum migrated here from Italy in the 60’s. She couldn’t speak English and she was bullied and experienced horrible racism. She was picked on for her food, the smell of her home (strong coffee & garlic), her language and called a wog. Now everyone loves pasta, olives, salami etc, drinks strong coffee and says ‘ciao’ – hopefully one day the world will grow again and welcome all people for what they can offer it.
There certainly are those people against immigrants, but then there are the rest of us. Welcome to Australia Aya 🙂
I hope you feel at home in Oz Aya. People from any country will surprise you – for good and for bad. Wishing you all the success in the world!
I’m sorry to that we are still a racist and close minded society. Hold onto those pockets of kindness you encounter and forgive us and teach us kindness and unity xo
Imagine being inside that”gentleman’s” head. Ugh!
Humans are capable of the full spectrum of behaviours & fortunately, most don’t act like him, but maybe more of us need to confront people like him when we see discrimination happening before our eyes. Peace Aya.
I came here as a migrant in 1997. And I too was very excited about going back “home” for the first time after 4 years here. I recognise that “don’t really fit in anywhere” feeling so much. When I got to the immigration counter at Sydney airport, feeling rather frazzled after 2 days of planes and airports, the officer looked at my visa then looked me in the eye, smiled and said “Welcome home” and I felt a wave of relief and emotion wash over me.
28% of people in Australia were born overseas. Many of us “get it”. We’re all in this together and we are helping to shape Australia through our experiences. 🙂
Years ago we had an Italian neighbour who never spoke English in the 40 odd years she was in Australia, my mum would go over and take her phone calls for her and try to explain what they were about or ring her daughter to tell her. My mum never got cross at her. I would love to be able to speak another language. Instead of that man telling you how to behave maybe he should have been telling his self to mind his own business.
Aya, everyone is/has been a migrant here at some point in their lives, either themselves or their ancestors unless they are aboriginal.
Don’t ever think you are not belong; Australia is full of loving people but like everywhere else there are good and bad people everywhere. Just ignore the minority that aren’t nice and welcoming, instead strive for excellence and in anyway you can contribute to the society and make Australia a better place.
Growing up in multiple countries does make it difficult to feel at home. I had exactly the same feeling you describe between Australia and Scotland. I went back and realised I wasn’t Scottish either.
I’m so sorry that horrible man spoke to you like that. Unless he was Aboriginal, his ancestors would have spoken a different language too. Please know that he represents a small minority. The rest of us welcome you with open arms ????
I’m embarrassed that that man yelled at you. Arabic is a beautiful language and I like to hear people speak it. This is Australia, and whilst I do think everyone should be able to communicate in English, I think you should retain your own language and culture within your family. I also think that all people should assimilate, including “Australians”, and part of that is to be accepting of all cultures.
I love to hear different languages spoken, it shows that we are part of a bigger world. In Europe where people only a few miles away can speak a different language, being multilingual is often a necessity. Because Australia is an island with ocean between us and our nearest neighbors, we have in the past seen ourselves as seperate from the rest of the world. Now finding our place in the global community requires changes that some Australians are struggling with. Having, or trying to learn a new language, opens more doors in business and brings us closer to finding our place in a global market.
Seriously, this country was built on the backbone of migrants and Australia wasn’t English to start with.
Imagine what aboriginal indigenous Australians had to encounter when they realise they couldn’t access their usual hunting grounds because it became fenced up without notice during early colonial days?
They were shot at, beaten up and their women raped.
Can’t stand it when people throw rocks without thinking of their own history. Pauline Hanson has Lebanese DNA after years of being publicly racist.
You are beautiful, intelligent, contributing back to Australia, brave and kind. Australia is LUCKY to have such good person like you.
There are many, many, many more Australians who welcome migrants than those who don’t. People seem to forget that we are one race ~ the human race, divided only by geography. ????
There will always be people that are ‘threatened’ by hearing someone speak a language they can’t understand… I get many compliments for teaching my children my mother tongue (and the several other languages I can speak)….but there are also plenty that just have to tell me I need to speak English to them as I’m living in ‘straya’ now… Those are also the ones that will tell me I should’ve gotten rid of my accent after being in this country for 13yrs… Whatever..
Ah, the duality of the migrant experience – not feeling like you belong 100% to your place of birth, or your adopted country. However, there is no better feeling than coming back through the Arrivals gate & being told “Welcome home”. The blessings of this country outweigh the bigots, ignorants & xenophobes.
Aya I promise not everyone is so mean to immigrants. Remember that virtually all Australians are either immigrants or descended from them, so even when pricks in the airport shout at you, just remember he’s an immigrant too and you’ve got just as much right to be here as he does. Then hold your head high and tell him you don’t welcome such racism in your country (Australia)!
Thankyou Aya for your tale. I am so sorry you have felt so ‘un belonging’. There are many many of us Australians (both indigenous and from varied heritage) who want you to feel welcome and accepted. Stay strong young lady!
These feelings of not belonging are true for English speaking ‘immigrants’ too. I was born in N.Z. And married an Australian in 1963. We came to Sydney just a month after our wedding. I was not accepted, labelled as an ‘import’. Going back to N Z for a holiday 18 months later made me realise I no longer belonged there either. I eventually decided that the decision to belong was up to me. I had to make a conscious decision to both accept my new life and live at peace with myself. It wasn’t always easy. Paul (in the Bible) wrote ‘ I have learnt to be content wherever I am.’ Love yourself and ignore what ignorant people think or say.i have now lived in Australia for 53 years. Keep your head up high.