I should really blog about my first impressions of my son’s first days in prep school. In an Australian State School, which for me, who has gone to primary school on the other side of the world (and not in uniform!) is a very exiting – and exotic – world. For him, it’s just new and part of growing up, he is doing what all his little mates are doing and he seems to be integrating really well. All good. But tomorrow is a day off, of course, as it is “Australyday” – and he told me all about it. Oh, I know…
Picking up my son from his first day in school (managed to get there late! that’s how we SAHMs roll…), I found Tornado sporting a sticker with an Australian flag and the words AUSSIE GROWN. Yeah well, I thought, not really..!
Not at all even, but then again : when you make your first steps and you speak your first words in a country and have all your friends there and your family, by blood or by adoption… how could he not consider himself Australian ? He knows that I am not, but he just assumes he is.
And he is: He’s my, and everybody’s, little “mate”, complete in thongs and boardies. What I want for my boy, right now, with him on this important step into more independency and into his own little social life at school, in this process of finding his identity, I want him to feel that he belongs, and we both now belong in this country, no matter what our passports say.
Australia is not the first country I have moved to, after leaving mine, about 15 years ago now. I didn’t really chose it, didn’t dream of living here (like so many do), I just came to get far away from where I was before. Then I somehow got stranded. And I staid.
I stayed but I was not happy with my Australian life and it took 2 years of misery and ‘limbo’ before falling in love with the man who is now my husband, I could allow myself to fall in love with Australia.
After the odyssey of the immigration process, the marriage, finally on the cherished ‘spousal visa’, I have decided last year that Australia means so much to me – and to my child – that I will take Australian citizenship when I will be allowed to apply for it.
That’s why I am now embracing, actually for the first time in my life, the whole ‘circus’ of a National Holiday, that celebrates the values and the beauty of its country and of the people who live in it.
Australia is an immigration country, and every year there are people that get naturalized in a ceremony. They are not ‘Aussie Grown’. They have come here by plane, like me. Some might even have come by boat (oh yes! just like those forefathers from the little island..). Not all may have initially have come here by choice. But they chose to stay. Just like I did. Like me, they will always have parts of their identity that has roots somewhere else.
I will always feel European, no matter what. And sometimes I miss my old home.
But isn’t it showing A LOT of love for a country when, rather than just to accept what you were given at birth, you fight and struggle to be able to stay and you chose it to be yours?
My son is now learning “Advance Australia Fair” on his first days in school. I am learning it with him. Oh, I am aware that you Aussies take pride in not knowing all of your anthem (and believe me you are not the only nation that doesn’t), but it has actually some really beautiful, strong lyrics. I also learned a lot more in the last years about the darker chapters of the past in Australia’s history, and the reverberations they still have today. I know that even this democratic, prosperous and so divers country is not perfect, but I still believe, it’s a pretty damn good place to be if you compare it with many other places on this planet. For most people here.
I found this video on YouTube, with photoslide, just sit back and enjoy.
Sung by Human Nature and Julie Anthony at the Sydney 2000 Opening Ceremony.
Australia, I DO love you now. You have taken me in, you have become my Home. Seeing so many Australians suffer during the last weeks of floods in Queensland and elsewhere has made me even more aware of how much I feel for this country, and for ALL the people that live here. I will never be able to wear the “Aussie Grown” sticker, but maybe they can bring some out that say “Imported Value” because if anything, I am hoping to give something back to the country that took me in when I really needed a place to belong. Like it has done for so many people before me.
ps: We are going to an Australia Day family event that has thong throwing and pie eating competitions as well as toad races. Tornado got new Australia board shorts. Do you think we are doing good in terms of integration ? See you there.