My Story ~ 3. Many Small Stones Can Build A Pyramid – That Is How Miracles Are Created

china australiaIf each person contributes one dollar, one million people will contribute one million that makes a millionaire.

I was born in Shanghai in 1951. My father’s family moved from Jiangsu province in the 1930s. At that time my father wanted to have four sons, he had chosen four Chinese characters as his boys’ names: “Ping, Sheng, Ke and Li”, meaning: “common people born to be independent”. I am the second son, so my name is “Sheng”.
As a young man, I followed my country’s call, “marry late and procreate late”, I got married when I was thirty-five. Many people asked me why I came to Australia, in retrospect, the primary reason was that my wife’s sister was in Australia, so my wife and I immigrated to Australia after we got married. But most importantly, it was a dream in my heart. At that time in China, we needed coupons for everything, grain coupons, meat coupons, eggs and oil, you name something, we had the coupon for it. For clothes, young children wore the left over clothes from their elder sisters and brothers. Life was not easy. So when I was a little boy, I dreamt to live a better life, to pursue something different. I always imagined what the outside world was like? Was it the same as China?

Finally, in May 1985, with the dream and desire hidden in my heart for many years, I came to Australia with my wife. But what I never thought was that when I set foot on the land of Australia, I discovered that the new environment and the new world I had dreamed about for a long time turned out to be quite similar to Shanghai.
Life was still not easy for me, the greatest difficulty was the language barrier. At that time, China and the Soviet Union were brother countries. I learned Russian at school, I didn’t know English. So I had to study English first. Secondly, financial difficulties, I had to go out and look for work. I worked in different restaurants, I worked on farms, picking grapes in vineyards under the high temperature of over forty degrees. Such hard times continued for six months. October 1985, Perth Casino was opened and needed a lot of people to work there. I was so lucky and got a job there. Nearly three decades later, I still clearly remember my employee ID number, it was 944. I was in charge of washing dishes and mopping floors in the kitchen. That was my first formal job and I continued working in the Casino for fifteen years.

Only I clearly know about the hardships I have endured in the past fifteen years. At that time, not many Chinese people were working in the Casino, communication became my greatest difficulty, both for my work and everyday life. For example, it was not easy for me to buy a car or a house. But I told myself, since I chose this pathway, I would keep moving forward, not to give in easily, to face any difficulties and to consider them life experience. There were no immediate and easy way in life, so I carried on looking on the bright side of life, otherwise you would feel unhappy and live a meaningless life.
I tried to conquer my difficulties with the language and found it was not impossible to learn English. But what really made me feel upset was that my professional skill I had learned in China did not apply to the work here. My specialty was original machine design in the electromechanical field. Before coming here, I was on the technical staff of a company, but in Australia I could only do manual labor such as washing dishes or mopping floors. The psychological gap would be appreciated by most people.
I never stopped thinking about how to make my specialty come in handy. Fortunately Heaven never seals off all the entrances and exits. One day, a great opportunity arrived. Read more

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我的故事 ~ 3. 小事做起,积沙成塔

china australia“每个人出一块钱,一百万个人就有一百万,百万富翁。”

我1951年出生于上海。我的父辈上世纪三十年代从江苏移居上海,那个时候他想生四个儿子,所以他在心中定了“平、生、可、立”四个字作为孩子们的名字,意为“平民生可立”。我排行第二,所以我的名字叫做“生”。

当年的我,响应国家的号召,晚婚晚立,三十五岁才结的婚。很多人问我:你为什么会来澳洲?回想起来,最直接的原因就是我太太的姐姐在澳洲,所以婚后便和太太一起移民过来。但最主要的,还是源自我内心的梦想。当时的中国,吃饭要粮票,卖肉要肉票,穿个衣服老大穿完老二穿……所以从小时候起,我便一直向往和追求一些不同的东西,我常常会想,外面的世界究竟是什么样呢?和咱们中国一样吗?

终于,在1985年5月,我怀揣着这儿时以来一直藏于心中的向往和追求,和太太一起来到了澳洲。但令我万万没想到的是,当我踏上澳洲这片土地才发现,原来我追求了这么久的东西——这新的环境、新的世界和上海竟没有大的区别。

生活对我来说依旧不易,最直接的困难就是语言障碍。当时的中国和苏联是兄弟国家,我从小在学校学的是俄语,而不是英语,因此在这里首先必须进行英语学习。另外,我和太太的生活需要经济来源,就必须出去打工。我曾在不少餐馆做过工,也曾冒着四十度的高温在葡萄园摘过葡萄。这样艰苦的日子一直持续了六个月。直到1985年10月,这里的Casino赌场开放,需要很多员工,我很幸运地得以进入赌场工作。将近三十年过去了,我还清楚地记得我当时的员工号是944。我在赌场的厨房洗碗、拖地……那是我在这里的第一份正式工作,一做就是十五年。

这十五年的路有多艰辛,只有我自己最清楚。那个时候中国人不多,语言交流还是最主要的困难,这导致我在工作、生活,包括包车买房都会遇到困难。但是我跟自己讲,既然选择了这条路,就要认真走下去,别把它说成是困难,而说成是一种生活经历。如果把什么都讲成困难的话,那么就会感到很不高兴,感到生活没有意思,我必须克服它。面对语言的困难,我还算可以应对,真正让我内心感到痛苦的,是我自己出国前的专业技能已完全起不到任何作用。我的专业是原机设计,机电方面的,来这里之前是正式公司的技术人员,到了这里却只能做洗碗、拖地的体力活,这种心理上的落差是一般人无法体会的。于是,我一直努力思索着怎样才让自己的专业派上用场。天无绝人之路,终于,让我等到了一个极好的机会。事情是这样的。1986年,赌场为了提升形象,从日本请到一个冰雕师傅。主厨看我年轻,就叫我当他的帮手,业余时间拿着刀跟他学一学。我欣然答应了。也许你们会问,冰雕和我的专业有关吗?——关系可大了!虽然我的美术并不是最好,但是我在机械方面的技术知识可以和美术结合起来。比如机械上用到的圆圈、直线、三角都可以变换到艺术上。于是,我就开始了我的帮工生涯,当时,我也真是没有想到,这一帮竟改变了我之后的人生。 Read more

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Buitenstaander en Bondgenoot ~ Negatieve beeldvorming in imagoverbetering

Foto: Floris Leeuwenberg

Foto: Floris Leeuwenberg

Zonder uitzondering balen portiers in de twee uitgaansgebieden soms van de negatieve beeldvorming over hun vak. Veel kwalificaties berusten op vooroordelen – en ze komen allemaal voorbij tijdens ons veldwerk. Portiers worden betiteld als ‘fout’, ‘anabolen spuiters’, ‘ongeletterde imbecielen’, ‘criminelen’, ‘valse kickboksers’, ‘ongevoelige klootzakken’, ‘domme kleerkasten’, ‘machtswellustelingen’ en zo kunnen we nog wel even doorgaan. Portiers hebben kortom een flink imagoprobleem. Deze negatieve beeldvorming leeft niet alleen onder veel stappers in het uitgaansleven, maar wordt ook geregeld in de media geventileerd.

Gezagsdragers en beleidsambtenaren die dichter bij de deurproblematiek staan, weten vaak beter. Maar zelfs in deze kringen bespeuren portiers soms stigmatiserende reflexen als het over hun werk gaat. Geen van de geïnterviewde portiers zegt de illusie te hebben dat de heersende negatieve beeldvorming na dit (bescheiden) onderzoek drastisch zal veranderen.

Maar wat ze wel hopen, is dat de partijen waar portiers beroepsmatig mee worden geconfronteerd (o.a. gezagsdragers, horeca-eigenaren, ambulancepersoneel, bestuurders, agenten en stapvolk) meer inzicht krijgen in de deurproblematiek zoals zij dit beleven. Sjors weet dat er veel over zijn vakbroeders wordt beweerd, maar twee dingen wil hij wel kwijt alvorens we hem interviewen. Niets is alleen zwart of wit in de portierswereld. En portiers zijn net als andere burgers gewoon mensen, maar ze mogen wel de klappen opvangen. En wat ook nog wel eens over het hoofd wordt gezien, is dat portiers zich soms ook maatschappelijk werker en hulpverlener voelen.

De portier en de mondige burger
Portiers bemerken vaak als eerste de veranderende mores in het uitgaansleven. Ze voelen zich niet zelden een soort ‘schietschijf’. Het uitgaansleven op de twee pleinen is hectischer geworden. En meer massa betekent ook meer druk op de deur. De oudgedienden vinden dat burgers vooral in de breedte een stuk mondiger zijn geworden, maar niet per se beleefder. Portiers hebben vaak het gevoel dat ze het nooit goed kunnen doen. Of ze grijpen te snel in, treden te hard op, discrimineren bij voortduring of gooien hun kont tegen de krib als ze (alweer) een cursus moeten doen. Door allerlei nieuwe wet- en regelgeving vinden ze dat het portierswerk complexer is geworden. Toch willen ze niet zitten meesmuilen. Portier zijn is ook een avontuurlijk en spannend beroep en soms op het randje volgens Timo: “Want op de rand van de afgrond is het uitzicht het mooist.”

Verbeterde samenwerking
Als we portiers vragen wat er beter kan in de samenwerking met andere partijen, dan horen we bijna steevast dat beleidsmakers vaak geen flauw benul hebben van de deurpraktijk. De ambtenaren en bestuurders die mooie plannen en antidiscriminatieprogramma’s bedenken, zouden voor de aardigheid eens een nachtje aan de deur moeten staan. “En dan niet met een agent erbij! Misschien dat er op het stadhuis dan wat meer begrip komt voor ons werk.”

Toch moeten portiers – zij het soms schoorvoetend – toegeven dat er de laatste jaren ook progressie is geboekt. De samenwerking met politie op de beide pleinen is verbeterd en er wordt meer intensief gepraat over de deurproblematiek. Er blijven evenwel genoeg punten over die hen dwars zitten.

 

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My Story ~ 4. I Remain A Typical Chinese Person

AustraliaChinaFlag“An Australian passport in my hand for eighteen years, but I still do not feel and will never be a real Australian.”

My hometown is Qujing, a small city in the east of Yunnan Province. Back when I was still in China, Qujing was different from the west part of Yunnan, there were only several minorities. Yang Liping, a well-known minority dancer whose Peacock Dance has won top praise of the world was born in Yunnan too. Well, I majored in dancing and during the past years, all my work has been closely related to dancing.

Talking about my experience of Australia, I think it’s quite interesting: the first time we came here as tourists. In 1996 when my husband and I were living in Africa with our eldest son, we made a trip to Australia and the first stop was Perth. The moment we arrived, we called a taxi and asked the driver to take us to a hotel in the city, and then there we were – Holiday Inn in the downtown area. We got up quite early to eat breakfast and my elder son (my little son hadn’t been born then) would sit beside the breakfast table reading. Suddenly, he said to us with excitement:” Look here, a migration agent, why don’t we move here and live in Australia while we are here can complete the immigration procedure?” I considered a while and replied, “Well, why not.” When my husband called the migration office, an old western lady answered the phone. She came to find us and took us to the Kings Park and Swan River where we saw black swans and walked along the river. I was quite amazed by the beauty of the small city, quiet and tiny, with no Chinese. She told us that there was no Chinatown, only several shops run by Vietnamese. (Northbridge was not Chinatown at that time.)

I fell in love with this peaceful city and said to my husband, “Let’s move here!” He agreed with me and we signed a contract with that nice old migration lady. Back to the hotel, we remitted ten thousand dollars to her and flew back to Africa.   However, I regretted the moment when we were back home, yes, what was I thinking about? What could I do in Australia with no relatives and friends there? My pregnancy with our little son increased my anxiety. After my husband’s call to that lady, we found that if we cancelled we would only be refunded part of our money due to the contract. Well, we had to go on. The procedure was actually quite easy at that time and only two months later, we were told that everything was okay and we could go there. My mother lived with me at the time, so I asked her to come to Australia with my son. I would move after my baby was born.
Perth is so beautiful and clean which is just what I love. It’s like living in the peaceful country with several families around. In fact, I’ve been to many places like Sydney, Melbourne and London et cetera. But I only like Perth. It’s weird but only because wherever you are, people around you are nice and friendly and of course the old lady in the office impressed me most. She was so hospitable that the first time we met, she took us around. And after my son came, she even offered to help arrange school. My mom knows little English so she found her a Hong Kongese at a restaurant as translator. If my mom went shopping, locals would offer to assist her. With all the memories in mind, I know I’m okay in Perth. Read more

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我的故事 ~ 4. 地地道道的中国人

AustraliaChinaFlag“我拿着澳洲护照已经十八年了,却从来没把自己当成过澳洲人。”

我的老家在云南曲靖,属于云南滇东。我在中国的时候,曲靖一度管辖着13个县。云南西部少数民族众多,滇东只有彝族、苗族等几个少数民族。在我们云南,有一位著名的少数民族舞蹈家叫杨丽萍,她的孔雀舞让世人称赞不绝。我也是学中国民族舞蹈出身,多年来的职业也一直和舞蹈有关。

我来到澳洲的经历非常特别,一家人旅游着就过来了。1996年的时候,我和我先生还有大儿子都住在非洲,一起来澳大利亚旅游。我们从约翰尼斯堡过来,第一站就到了珀斯。达到珀斯的第一天,我们跟出租车司机说要到城里找个地方住,他就把我们带到城里的假日酒店。每天早上我先生很早就起来吃早餐,我大儿子就在一边翻书看,翻着翻着,忽然说:“哎,这里有办移民的,我们要不要移民来澳洲住?”我考虑了下说:“问问看吧。”然后我先生就打电话给移民公司。接电话的是一个白人老太太,她人很好,马上就开车到我们住的酒店,然后带我们去国王公园,再去天鹅湖边看黑天鹅,沿着那个湖边兜了一圈。当时我的感受就是:哇,这个小城市居然那么漂亮!那时候的珀斯真的很小又很安静,几乎没有什么中国人。我就问这位老太太有没有唐人街,她说没有,附近只有几个越南人开的店,还没有大陆人开的店。

我一下子喜欢上了珀斯这座安静的小城,于是就对先生说:“我们移民吧!”我先生也很赞同,就跟那个太太签了合同。回去以后,我们给她寄了差不多一万美金,然后绕了一圈就回非洲了。可是一回到非洲我们马上就后悔了,心想:哎呀,去澳洲干什么呀,没亲戚又没朋友……而且我发现我又怀孕了,怀了我的小儿子,就更加不想去了。于是我先生打电话给那个老太太说不移民了,她答复道不来澳洲可以,但因为合约已签好,她收的钱只能退给我们百分之几十,剩下的她要全部扣除。无奈之余,我先生只好让她继续办理。那个时候办理移民手续非常快,大概两个月之后她就写信给我们说办好了,叫我们赶紧过去。我的母亲一直和我住在一起,我就让我的母亲和大儿子先过来澳洲,我在非洲把小儿子生下之后,也跟了过来。

在珀斯住下之后,就觉得此地美丽又干净。我喜欢安静,喜欢那种乡村一样的感觉,安安静静没多少人。我之前其实也去过不少地方,例如悉尼、墨尔本,还有伦敦。我觉得很奇怪,我就喜欢珀斯,因为不管你在哪里,当地人都非常友好。给我印象最深的就是那个办移民的老太太。真的是第一次见面,她就很热情,给我们安排所有的东西,然后带我们去游玩。我儿子来了以后,她还给我儿子安排读书。我母亲不懂英文,她就给我母亲找了一个在这边开餐馆的香港人帮我母亲做翻译。我母亲走路去买菜时,很多当地人也很热情地过来问她要去哪里,然后把她送过去。于是我心里默念着:这里真好!

不过,刚开始生活的时候我也还是遇到了不少困难。最主要的就是语言不通,特别是生活中的琐碎语言。我在非洲四年,并没有去学外语。到了珀斯之后,即使是去华人店,他们要么讲英语要么就讲广东话。为此我都哭了,我打电话给中国那些同学诉苦,我说我现在无法和外界沟通,我不但要学英语还要学广东话。直到现在,我广东话还是不会,只会听一点点。

在珀斯住了好一阵子之后,因为不用工作,我开始在家里闲得有些难受。我之前也没有太多的工作经历,只教过跳舞。那时的珀斯只有三所中文学校,都是属于中华会馆的。我就到中华会馆去,想找一份在中文学校教舞蹈的工作。但当时那些学校都不需要人,我后来问了几个熟人,包括我儿子就读的台湾人开的学校,也都不需要舞蹈老师。我只好作罢。一直到1997年香港回归中国的时候,当地华人要在街上搞游行。不知道听谁说了我会跳舞,当时负责搞游行的人就打电话给我叫我去演出。阔别舞台那么久,有人邀请我跳舞自然很高兴,不过那个演出就是在大街上搭一个台子,没有乐队伴奏,也没有灯光和舞台,连音乐的卡带也没有。所有东西都要自己准备——这一度让我很困惑,包括后来有一次在西澳大学演出,叫我跳独舞、音乐、服装也都是要我自己准备。我只好打电话给我中国的同学,叫他们快递了一件孔雀服过来。 Read more

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My Story ~ 5. Three Words, One Marriage

chinaustr3“Run-in period requires time; a marriage is much more complicated than test driving a new car.”

I was born in 1963, but I feel much younger, I cannot be called a beauty, but I am rather good-looking and stylishly dressed, some Australians even take me to be high school student. But on personal experiences and mental qualities, I am prematurely aged. Shadows left in my childhood often appear in my dreams, and wounds in my young heart remain unhealed. Due to the historical background of my parents’ family, I have gone through   many emotions that other people of my age have not experienced.
I am the youngest child, I have five brothers; and I am the only girl. Looking back on my early childhood, I had secretly decided that I would not stay in China, I had to go abroad. The reason was simple, when I was 6, my family was deported to Inner Mongolia, my parents were much wronged and endured much suffering, I didn’t want to experience the same life, and I had to find a way out of this country, I did not want to stay in this country, it was all too painful. Seeing how my father and my mother were tortured every day, my young heart was bleeding. Then I did not go to school, but I did know what “torment” “suffering” and “” poverty “meant. I remember, my family had a very comfortable and cozy life in the city, then one day we woke up, and found ourselves falling into an abyss in an out-of –the-way place, all of a sudden we became penniless. I knew a family like my parents’ should not be so poor, but I was not clear about the reason.

I didn’t find any opportunity to go abroad. Nine years passed in a flash, my family returned to the city in 1978, by that time I had grown up a lot… Later I got married, had a baby, and when my child grew up, I put all my hopes on her. There is a saying on WeChat “some people are particularly wise, they do their own things, some people are stupid, they cannot do anything, and they just lay an egg like a bird, and then send that egg out.” I am among the stupid ones, I was a fool who laid an egg and put all the hopes on this egg.

Perhaps because of the underlying historic reasons and the failure of having very much in common with my ex-husband I became a single mother and struggled through life with my daughter. From the very beginning when my daughter went to school, I simply did not prepare her to take the College Entrance Examination in China. My daughter is just like me in character, she’s very direct and straightforward, and follows her own pathway with no change of direction. She was not good at dealing with people and I didn’t think she was particularly clever. If she had continued to live in China, life would be very difficult for her. I’m not saying that China is not good, but we Chinese always have a network of relationships which is very complex.
During her school years in China, I had been impressing on her mind the idea of studying abroad. In 2008, she graduated from high school, I sent her directly to an Australian college to study nursing without taking the College Entrance Examination.
At that time I was still working in China, so my daughter studied here alone, as a child of a single-parent family, she seemed to grow up particularly fast, and became an adult in an instant. You can imagine how hard it was, my daughter had to study and work part time but she managed to hang on. Two years later, my daughter applied for a visiting visa for me. Read more

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