Tag Archives: asian australian

Sitting with Jack Ngu

Interview by Suzanne Nguyen

Jack Ngu
Actor, Multimedia maker

1. Mind introducing yourself.

I sense danger in introducing myself to strange little ladies that
collect stories and seem to have many mysterious plans, I like
mystery. I am an Australian born Asian actor with Multimedia
trimmings, seasoned in all sorts of genres and approaches to
film-making in front and behind the camera. Current status is restless
and torn between the industries in Sydney Australia and Singapore.

Race is inverted, in Singapore Asians are the priority and majority and Caucasians are the minority or novelty.

To give depth to that, in the Asian market I feel like I’m treated like a human being and not just another thug, gangster, drug dealer, computer geek, ninja, martial arts guy. “

Continue reading Sitting with Jack Ngu

I hate ‘Chinese Food’

chinese-food

Patrice Wilson (of the song ‘Friday’ fame) is back with another viral hit, and this time it is casual racism at its best. Alison Gold is a tween pop wannabe, a foodie celebrating her love of Chinese food. Culturally awkward, it’s cringe worthy.

Allow me to save 3.5 minutes of your life; Gold prances around after a night of clubbing (yes, this 11 year old is hungry after a night of dancing), she is so hungry and wants to eat Chinese. Here’s a little snippet of the song, in the chorus, she sings:

Continue reading I hate ‘Chinese Food’

Inclusion Zone

I don’t recall noticing that my grandfather was black until his ‘difference’ was pointed out to me at school when I was about 9.

“Who was that black man I saw you with at the weekend,” a schoolmate asked.

He’s black? He was just my grandfather as far as I was concerned. And while I didn’t see colour then, I certainly do now.

And so started my experience of racism. While I would later be taunted at school about having a black grandfather, I soon came to realise that the pathetic comments directed at me were nothing in comparison to the direct-action racism faced by people with a skin colour that’s not white.

My mother spent her childhood trying to scrub the brown out of her skin.

Here’s a picture of my grandfather in Egypt in 1940 during WWII:

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He was Moriori but served in a Maori battalion.  Continue reading Inclusion Zone

Living la vida Laowai

Wikipedia describes Laowai as a commonly used Mandarin Chinese word, and a shorter, informal version of wàiguórén 外国人 (“foreigner”).

Laowai is not intended as a negative word. Of course you may hear expat stories where the word has been adapted to be used negatively by some. Sadly, this has become human nature. I am currently not an expat, and my story is not a story about international racism. However, my story is about being different. My story is about being an outsider, and loving every minute of it.

I was born and raised in Victoria Australia. I am an English Language Tutor. I love what I do, I get to meet a fantastically diverse bunch of people, and I probably learn more than I teach.

A little over a month ago now I began looking for a quiet office space in the CBD to accommodate some new Melbourne based learners. After browsing through sublet advertisements on Gumtree, I had come to the conclusion that I was probably going to end up in a broom closet next to the restrooms of a Legal Chambers, where the land lord had placed a semi-constructed flat pack desk, an over swiveled swivel chair, and a poster reading “hang in there.”

I picked one ad at random, and arranged a visit via email. I arrived at the address, took the elevator up 5 floors and stepped inside a lovely looking office suite. I was shocked to learn that I had arranged to view an office inside a Tutoring Center, there was even a stack of IELTS books by the reception desk. Needless to say, I moved into my new Melbourne office a few weeks ago. I share a suite with a wonderful company called Energy Bean Tutoring Center.

Energy Bean is probably best described as a Chinese Australian Tutoring Centre, as it caters mostly to the needs of international students from mainland China studying at various levels in Australia.

It’s fair to say the official spoken language within my office suite is Mandarin. The signs are all in Mandarin, the posters are in Mandarin, the Energy Bean web page is in Mandarin, I noticed that even the label and fine print on one of the whiteboard markers was Mandarin. Despite not knowing a great deal of the language, not once have I been treated as an outsider. Despite running a similar business, not once have I been treated as competition. I was instantly treated like a partner. After only three weeks I feel like I have been part of the Energy Bean family for a decade.

Last night I was invited to the Energy Bean Anniversary Celebration. The speeches, presentations, and games were all in Mandarin, and I felt how some of my intermediate students must feel when I ramble on and forget to articulate, and just like them, I was politely nodding and pretending I knew what was going on. Perspective is one heck of an eye opener. After giving up on my high hopes of becoming a fluent Chinese speaker by carefully listening to the speeches, I sat back and enjoyed the culture shock.

When the games began, I watched Energy Bean staff and students light up with joy as they participated in competitive group activities. It was so entertaining from a spectators point of view. I couldn’t even being to guess what the objective was, but their smiles and laughter spoke louder than any words in any language. Energy Bean’s very own hard working receptionist kindly explained what was going on, and it turned out there was a lot of method to the madness unfolding before my eyes.

I felt guilty that I couldn’t fully understand the festivities despite all the hard work that had gone into the evening. Everyone else probably felt guilty that I was unable to participate because they made sure not to make me feel as though I was being excluded, being sure not to alienate me, and make me feel like an outsider. As a result I felt like I was on an adventurous international vacation, but it became clear that I was actually witnessing Australia as the multicultural paradise that it should be.

In my opinion, I have become a better ESL teacher by spending some time as an outsider with people who instantly welcomed me, and let me in. I believe there are no minorities based on heritage and race. The only true minority group in this country are those ignorant few who consciously chose to shut everybody else out. I truly feel sorry for them. They don’t know what they are missing out on.

Thanks for reading!

Written by Dayne Collins @academiaesl

#BAD2013 – Our thoughts on Multiculturalism

Blog Action Day is an free annual event, that has run since 2007. It’s aim is to unite the world’s bloggers by posting about the same issue, on the same day, in order to raise awareness and trigger a positive global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all, raises awareness or even funds for not-for-profits associated to the theme issue. This year the theme is Human Rights.

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Suzie Nguyen on being a Banana

A banana is a fruit that is yellow on the outside and white on the inside. I am Asian Australian, and so are B1 and B2, the two characters from the Banana in Pyjamas show. When I was a kid I never questioned the differences between people, fruit and race. As a teen, I struggled with my identity of fitting into yellow/white cultures. Now, I am embracing my combined yellow and white thinking. Diversity is a part of Australia’s identity and unfortunately so is racism. Today’s battle in Australia isn’t fighting overt racism. It’s recognising the greyness of the issue and raising more awareness of other forms of racism, like casual racism. I am part of The Two Chairs initiative, we are planning to use art, community and conversation to help bring constructive discussion to this issue. It’s time we creatively chat about race and racism.

Dan Machuca on Pop Culture

Popular culture is this generation’s myths and legends. Characters such as Superman, Optimus Prime and GI Joe had as much of an effect on my upbringing as Theseus, Moses or Hercules. This is why I think it’s important now more than ever that we are as inclusive and culturally senstitive as possible with the shows we have in TV. For some people what they see on television will be their first exposure to other cultures, so stereotyping them as lazy, dishonest or otherwise “different” can only further a negative stereotype for nothing more than cheap laughs. Remember that it’s your attention that these shows want, and by voting with your eyeballs you can truly help make a change in the community.

 

Not All Asians are Chinese

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Since my last post a few people have responded and shared their own thoughts about common racial misconceptions, such as “Where are really you from?” and “All asians look alike”. Ellie, a Korean Australian adoptee, recently shared her experience about visiting Korea and how culturally different it was, including how she noticed micro-facial differences between people. While Shu Shu responded with her version of “Where are you from?”

My background is Vietnamese, yet people will come up to me, show me a potential tattoo in Chinese Characters and ask if it reads “peace” or “love.” Maybe I should nod my head, hope I was right and potentially give them a tramp stamp. Continue reading Not All Asians are Chinese

Do All Asians Look Alike?

Last week I posted up my thoughts on the question: “Where are you from?” and I had some pretty interesting responses. There were two distinct voices that came out of the ensuing discussion. A number of people believed that most uses of that question are genuinely curious. With the right tone and intent, the conversation is a great way of learning about each other’s cultural history. On the other hand, some believe that it is intrusive and rude. The question to them is like a reworded and nice way of profiling you. Continue reading Do All Asians Look Alike?