Issue One: Expectations
Having lived half of my life in Malaysia and half in Australia, I grew up trying to assimilate into both my Malaysian heritage and into Australian culture. Friends and family from Asia often say I have lost my Malaysian accent. Strangely enough, I think my Malaysian accent comes out, especially when I am surrounded by those with the accent. Similarly, those around me in Australia say I have an accent (oddly, sometimes people hear American too? The TV show, Friends, may have had an influence…) I have to admit, it is sometimes an identity crisis to try and meet expectations of both sides of the coin.
However, with the close proximity of Perth to Asia and having to work internationally, I have realised that having somewhat of an understanding of both cultures allows me to be the bridge between the two – to a certain extent. There are times where I feel others are in a better position than myself in this matter, considering I didn’t actually pick up another language like Chinese or Malay – the ‘disgraceful Asian’ as I call myself! My parents know (limited) different dialects of Chinese, and sent me to learn a totally different one when I was living in Malaysia. Consequently, I struggled to pick up Chinese in an English-filled home.
Not necessarily an [Australian-born Chinese], though I am commonly mistaken as one. But I guess this subtle identity crisis is what makes me part of the ‘odd bunch’ of Australia – and it keeps it interesting!