A few months before the world stopped, “everyone” was “debating” the perceived merits and/or sensationalised evils of immigration.
December 2019 changed everything, for all of us. Life took a hard shift and many of us are still paying a price we didn't bargain for, but that's a discussion for another time. What I want to talk about today, is “making a home - here”.
For some, migrants are just an economic stopgap. Others see migrants as just the flavour of the week (every week). Another segment of society sees immigration as a dilution of a country’s true identity. So, who’s right?
In reality, all these views are partly true, partly false. The actual fact lies in the intersection between fact, fear and assumptions.
For a majority of first-generation migrants, moving “permanently” to a new country isn’t just a means to an end, it’s a journey for change. A once in a lifetime opportunity to reshape destiny and re-write their stories.
History may repeat but time doesn’t. Life doesn’t come with a refresh button but immigration has always provided an opportunity to for people not only drive their stories forward but to also give life a do-over.
For many of us - myself included, becoming a migrant was/is a choice to correct the lost opportunities of our youth, build a better future for our children, embrace the values of a new country, contribute to an inclusive future and hope to be accepted as one with its people.
Many people change location due to devastating reasons, such as war, tribal abuse, a declining economy, better education, romantic relationships or if you’re always lucky, perhaps like me - the pursuance of a personal dream. Although I cannot speak specifically for immigrants from every single country, one thing cannot be questioned.
Australia is perceived by the majority of the world to be a country at the unknown end of the planet. A place of last resort but that's not factual. The people who come here, mostly choose to do so. This country can be a love story if we collectively make it so.
It’s imperative that we realise, Migrants do not stumble into Australia, whatever their individual circumstance and regardless of their level of proficiency in English, those who choose to come here have done so in search of a people they believe in and a place to call home.
It’s almost never the last resort. Australia is a choice, a very conscious and usually difficult choice.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
Every migrant, just like all Australians first seeks out three things —Kindness, Income and Shelter. Sometimes the order is juxtaposed but it’s always these three first above all else. Once these needs are met, we all desire one more thing — above all else. Acceptance.
I’ve done informal research and spoken to a lot of migrants. In my experience, a vast majority of immigrants do not come into a country especially one as “legalistic” as Australia with the goal of disrupting it’s social, cultural and political fabric.
Our endgame is to embrace and adopt every good thing about this country and all its people.
We seek to adapt and be adopted by strangers whom we have chosen and desire in turn to chose us. Most of us are seeking a place to call our home and people to call us family.
We live every day actively interacting with and soaking up the unique history and warmth of this multi-layered people because although we will never lose our ingrained histories, we do not see this country as just our residence, we see it as our home.
Over the past 18 months, there has been a public and understandable push for migrants to be moved away from major cities and inward to regional towns and cities. I have publically stated my support for such an initiative, however, I must continue to state that such a move should never be forced upon anyone.
The freedom and power of choice are what makes us all human. People need to be given a choice and should be properly incentivised to relocate.
The wounds of time
Over 3 years ago, I arrived as a stranger in a country I had never seen. I took a leap of faith on a pilgrimage to the “bottom of the world”. Like you, I had big fears — many of them. However, our worst fears are (usually) never realised. All this country has ever given to me are opportunities.
I continue to perceive being treated without disdain and only the rarest occurrences of discrimination. No country will ever be perfect, for a person with dreams, desire and the courage to attempt to build a life in the land of the lucky, Australia comes close.
Living here has gifted me with unexpected friendships especially in a city populated by the most accepting of peoples. I feared isolation but right from day one, I’ve received tributes of acceptance, warmth and joy.
Gradually, I began to “feel” at home then one day, I caught myself lost in my own thoughts. I had transcended my origins. My heart was becoming rooted in this country, this city and among every single culture, every accent, every shade and colour. These are my people.
It’s time. I’m no longer searching, no longer wandering, I’m finally home.