|Irrelevant picture from yesterday :P|
I have wanted to blog about this topic for some time now. Just a little background info- I was born in Singapore and when my parents divorced when I was two, I was brought to Australia and have grown up here, save for a two year stint in Singapore where I completed my IB diploma at a more local-than-international school. Currently I'm back in Perth in my 3rd year of my Doctor of Chiropractic degree. I have never fitted into the crowd in Perth or Singapore and have been relentlessly bullied in both places. Children and teenagers are very cruel. Granted, I did have a broken childhood and family so I probably wasn't the most popular personality in school- in fact, I hardly talked at all. I still wonder sometimes, is there a place in the world where I will truly fit in? And then again, does anyone truly fit in?
In Australia, I have been subject to countless racist comments/attacks from when I was young. Looking back on my primary school photos, I realise I was the only Asian girl in my whole year! I have so many memories of being left out of activities and hurtful comments because of my race. FYI, I was not FOB, I was only taught English from young, something I have always regretted (if you can regret something that wasn't in your control lol! Why couldn't I have been taught Mandarin instead?!). I remember school photo day, I was in year 1, my teacher and even the photographer were making fun of me and kept asking why my eyes couldn't open wider and then laughing to themselves. This memory stuck with me for a very long time, at the time I didn't understand but now... That is so mean! How could a teacher do that! That same teacher also picked on me a lot, I also remember her ripping out countless pages of my exercise books in front of the class because my work "wasn't up to scratch". Ahem, I was a very smart kid ok, years ahead of everyone else due to the Asian way of teaching (ie. Not allowed friends and made to study every day), there was no way my work wasn't up to scratch!
Fast forward a few friendless years later in High school and I was egged on the side of the road. I blocked out this memory for a very long time. It was so shameful and humiliating... can you imagine?!
Train stations and trains are also prime places for racist attacks. So drive if you can! I've been called so many names, mostly involving 'whore' and 'slut'. So creative -_-. Once Steph and I walked into a train carriage and a group of bogans practically yelled, "EW THERE ARE ASIANS ON OUR CARRIAGE!" and gave us those 'imgonnaknifeyou' stares. It sounds comical on here, but in real life you feel a slew of emotions that go fear, humiliation, anger then outrage. Talking to other Asians in Australia, it appears that they either do not feel as strongly about racism here or they haven't had many bad experiences. Is it just me? Do I somehow attract these attacks?
On the other hand, majority of the people in Australia are nice! I have not had a racist thing said to me directly in about a year. It is the few bad experiences that change your perception of a country, and I think I am jaded by mine. There have been a few surprises on the way as well, my favorite being the time when I was waiting at a bus stop and an Aboriginal man was muttering profanities under his breath and pacing up and down (not sure what he was angry about). The bus came and he stepped up in front of me and looked around to face me. I was scared at this point, I thought he was going to abuse me in some way. But then he stepped aside and said "after you Miss!" and let me get on the bus first! :)
When I was 16, we moved to Singapore. I thought this was my chance to start over again as I would be amongst Asians, boy was I wrong! I was bullied the worst I have ever been for the first 3 months of school. I was bullied in real life and cyber bullied on about 4 different blogs and I would just go home and cry every night. I understand now that I must have just been too different from the locals and it must have been confusing as I'm Chinese with an Aussie accent. I was also unsure of myself and who I was, and I don't think I was purely the victim in this case- I definitely said some things that are better left unsaid in a conservative country like Singapore. All people need is an excuse to pick on someone who is alone, and trust me, they will. The bullying wore off after I gained a group of friends, but overall I didn't feel a close connection to Singapore even though I had family there. This all came together when I joined my first beauty pageant "Miss Singapore Sweetheart" LOL. I was interviewed by the panel of judges and one woman looked at me with a stink face and asked "What makes you think YOU can win? YOU didn't even grow up here".
5 years on I won Miss Chinese WA 2012, even though I cannot speak Mandarin. Take that mean pageant lady! *shakes fist*
My experiences tell me I am too Asian to be Australian and too Australian to be Asian. Is there a place in the world for me? I would love to see where I end up in 10 years. I can't see myself in Perth, that's for sure. Imho, everywhere and everyone is inherently racist towards some race, maybe it's just not possible to fit in. And maybe in time, I will be ok with that.