ASC233 – International Migration And Multicultural Societies : Essay Fountain

Question:

Your self-reflection can take various forms. Here are some ideas.

1. Personal migration experience. What does it feel like to be a stranger?

The experience of being a ‘migrant’

o If you are a second or third generation immigrant do you still feel like a ‘migrant’? Why? Why not?

o Recent immigrants and international students can also explore their own experience of being in Australia.

A second option is to reflect on the experience of interacting with those who are culturally different.

• This could be with friends, neighbours or people in public spaces.

• Have these been positive, negative experiences or both?

• Why have they been positive or negative?

• What have you learned through these experiences about yourself and others?

3. Finally, if you have had no or little interaction with those who are cultural different how can you explain this situation?

• What factors in your life have led to this situation?

• Has this had an impact on how you see yourself and those who are culturally different?

 

Answer:

Introduction

Having arrived in Australia for the first time having left behind friends, family, and a much more familiar territory; here, I was plunged into a new environment with its set rules of conduct and a culture that I would consider foreign. Their food, their way of doing things, their interactions, their beliefs, the manner in which they conducted themselves and how they managed their relationships was different from what I was used to. Yet here I was and nothing seemed familiar. I found myself at a very funny place of the immigration Venn diagram. In this paper, I will reflect on my experience of being the ‘other’ or the outsider in Australia and how over time I acquired what I would consider a transnational identity. Dirks (2017), states that the question about the other is integrally related to that of identity. I speak of my feeling of being a stranger through various instances that have occurred during my stay.

There have being numerous instances in life where I have being placed in situations where I feel like a stranger in a completely new world. Joining school for the first, transferring to a new school, meeting my girlfriends parents at their home, meeting her group of friends for the very first time. All these experiences have being scary in their own little way. The feeling of being an outsider or a stranger in various situations is not new, as we all have had various experiences that have had such experiences on various situations on our day-to-day life (Dirks, 2005). 

 

 

Having initially migrated from the Middle east and a practicing the Muslim meant my life was a bit more complicated especially due to Islamophobia. My background did little to help my situation. I have seen instances where people have hurriedly left my vicinity simply because I was carrying a bag, exposed to what I would consider as excessive and extreme security checks in public places have had to endure sneering comments from people who know nothing about me or where I come from. The more I ventured into this new world, the more I felt unwelcome, criminalized, and imposed upon by a dense and costly layer of bureaucracy. Despite all these, I believe I have a better command of the queens’ language than most who have lived, a deeper knowledge of Australia’s history and law, and have much more to contribute than most.

To deal with the radically disturbing recognition of the significance of the other for who we are, the first instinct was to seek one of my own, people with the same origin story. Since we were all considered as outsiders, we the outsiders stuck together despite our varying cultural background. Here we were, different cultural backgrounds but united by the mere fact that we were outsiders in a world we would not consider as our own. We were treated differently, some worse than the others simply because of varying stereotypes of what they thought we were or where we came from. In place of comfort there was prejudice and a lot of skepticism, they viewed us fearfully as if we were a threat and associated with us with suspicions even when we had something to offer. We were the minority, Elias Canetti states that there is nothing that man fears more than the touch of the unknown. 

That was the initial reaction. Today here I am in a place where I initially thought I would never belong to but have come to appreciate and love. Just as Dirk (2010) states that, other’s existence is an inherently ambiguous and disconcerting reality. With time, the systematic otherness which I experienced disappeared, we all became part of an in-group having realized that in our little way we were all strangers in our own rights. Today I have many Australian friends, have had, and still have romantic relationship with an Australian and we over time have come to the appreciation of the fact that despite our cultural differences we all belong. There are no longer a classification of us versus them it is just we (Zygnunt, 1990). In as much as we fear what the others might do, deep inside there is an irreplaceable feeling that we still need the otherness (Dirks, 2005: Pg 249-251). Integration and appreciation of culture where different people who considered each other as antagonists can therefore come to a point where they can appreciate that their differences can be used as a source of strength. Stereotypes and a lack of knowing is what make us think of those outside our cocoons as others refer to them with phrases such as ‘they’ or ‘them.’ Despite our differences, we all have something small that we can bring on the table and as such advance the common good. A world without differences would be insufferable (Dirks, 2005). I today consider myself a transnational individual who through experience of being the other and belonging to the minor community in the society has transcended the labels of otherness becoming a part of a community who believe in differences as a source of possibility.

Migration today occupies a central role especially in the 21st century than ever before with the advancement in technology morphing our world as we once knew it. We are all strangers in our own rights and as such, we should extend a welcoming hand helping to bridge the gap of us versus them (Zygnunt, 1990). Before judging, one must first learn. A society must strive to develop a framework in which reciprocal interactions take place by discharging and neutralizing our self-destructive tendencies. This is a relationship where both sides of the divide, the us and the them; have something to offer each other that which they need hence assimilating to the fact that by perpetuating a sense of otherness we inhibit individual progress (Zygnunt, 1990).

 

References

Dirks, N. (2005). Other . In T. Bennett (Ed.), A Revised Vocabulary of Culture and Society (pp. 249-251). Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Zygnunt, B. (1990). Us and Them . In B. Zygnunt (Ed.), Thinking Sociologically (pp. 37-54). B. Blackwell.

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