My Story ~ Foreword ~ Chinese in Australia, 1980 –


chinaustr2There are many features in this book that offer a distinctive contribution to our knowledge and understanding of Chinese in Australia from the 1980s, a time coinciding with the opening up of China to increased business and personal travel experiences. Historically there have been different waves of Chinese, from the early period of indentured labour and gold-seekers, to the contemporary period where there is a more varied mix of commerce, small businesses, investment, educational, and travel.

This book focuses on the period from 1980. There are many pivotal and distinctive features in this study, which focuses on the personal stories of selected Chinese people, predominantly in Western Australia.

The interviews of men and women reveal poignant details of their personal feelings and experiences. They have varied backgrounds, some entered on 457 visas, most have, or sought education, professional employment or business opportunities.

Importantly, many reveal a glimpse into their personal life in China, or other countries, prior to arriving in Australia. These details provide the backdrop to exposed mixed feelings of cultural loss in Australia. We learn about the difficulties of language, of unfamiliarity of employment and the workplace, not only on their arrival, but as a continuing theme.

Cultural differences and the difficulty of adaptation are revealed sensitively. There is courage in the openness to talk with feeling, and often humour, of Australian habits, and although they appreciate the orderliness and opportunities in Australia, most expressed a preference to continue Chinese eating, family and cultural habits. Central to this sensitive discussion is the discussion of ‘home’ of loyalty; of sense of place; of country. The strength of this book is the honesty and sensitive approach to these difficult questions of identity, culture, family and ‘home’.

Dr Jan Ryan

Honorary Professor
Edith Cowan University

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我的故事 ~ 序 ~ 二十世纪八十年代的澳洲华人


chinaustr2二十世纪八十年代,伴随着中国的对外开放,商业活动和个人游历活动日益频繁。历史上,从早期契约式劳工和淘金者到当代形式多样的商业贸易、小生意、投资、教育和旅游等,一波又一波的华人赴澳。本书的许多故事为我们了解这个时代背景下来澳的华人作出了独特贡献。

本书聚焦于二十世纪八十年代。书中有很多重要而独特的描述,讲述了华人,尤其是西澳华人的个人奋斗历程。

对人物进行的访谈,生动、细致地再现了他们辛酸的个人情感和奋斗经历。他们有着不同的背景,一些人持457签证入境,大多数人拥有或者寻求教育、专业工作或者经商的机遇。

尤为重要的是书中很多故事对这些华人来澳之前在中国或其他国家的生活经历做了简要回顾。这些细节为主人公由于文化缺失而显现的悲喜杂糅的复杂的心情提供了背景。我们由此能够体会他们语言学习的困境,对求职和工作环境的疏离感和陌生感。这种感受不仅产生在他们来澳之初,而且一直困扰着他们。

本书敏锐地反映了文化差异和文化顺应困难。经常带着一种澳式的幽默,主人公勇敢而坦诚地谈起自己的情感经历。虽然他们欣赏澳大利亚的秩序和机遇,大多数人还是表达了对中国饮食、家庭和文化习惯的偏好。书中探讨的核心是对“家园”的忠诚,地域和国家意识。诚实、细致入微地探讨认同、文化、家庭和“家园”等敏感的话题是本书的一个亮点和难能可贵之处。

简·瑞安博士

伊迪斯科文大学教授

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My Story ~ 1. Sometimes, Flowers Bloom Even More Beautifully In A Foreign Soil


Flag of the People's Republic of China
“I am not a professional builder, but it was like a mouse under the Buddhist scripture which became an elf by listening to holy words all the time…”

I came to this new and unknown land. During the past decades, my world has been enriched, my English has improved, my hard work turned into money in my pocket. My initial uneasiness gradually gave way to a kind of heartfelt appreciation of this place. That I quit my job in China and came here, starting from scratch was really a very difficult process, a mixture of joy and sadness, excitement and difficulties.
I was born in 1963. My hometown is Gantao, a town administered by Fuqing city, a county-level city of Fujian province. I did not live in the city. I was a rural child from a rural household. The countryside I am talking about is the place where people relied wholly on their land to support them. Some say:”those living on a mountain live off the mountain, those living near the sea live off the sea.” Unfortunately, we were not near the mountain nor the sea, so we have nothing to rely on but a few acres of poor land. Common crops in my hometown were sweet potato, rice, peanuts and vegetables that were all we could grow on our land. I have five very clever brothers. My eldest brother, second brother and third brother attended elementary school, but only my eldest brother graduated, my second and third brothers did not even finish elementary school due to my father’s death. My fourth and fifth brother did not receive any education at all. However, my brothers supported me in college, which made me the only college-educated member of our family. I passed the entrance examination in 1984 and was enrolled at the Fujian College of Business. In my hometown, only one out of a hundred applicants was admitted. I graduated from college in 1987; we were the first class from the Business College who majored in management of commercial enterprises. At our school, we were a group of ambitious youngsters who came from all over the country.

I was assigned to a government organization after graduation, the General Office of Fujian Province. My position was highly related to economy. I was a young man walking out from a rural area and was very clear about my own position. I couldn’t make any mistakes in the financial situation of my life, even if I was tempted to do so. At that time a lot of people from Fuqing went abroad. They were earning 400 Australian dollars a week – more than 2,000RMB. The exchange rate of the Australian dollar compared to the RMB was 6.5 yuan, so people in Australia could earn more than 2,000 RMB a week.
At that time my salary was only 125 yuan a month, that is, 500 yuan a year. The money they earned in one week was equal to two years’ salary. Because of this, my wife and I planned to go abroad. First, we could learn some English; second, we could enrich our experience; and third, we could make a fortune there and come back to China for a better job.
At that time, many people chose Japan over Australia, because it was easier to make more money in Japan than in Australia; however later we found that Australia was much better. You had to work very hard in Japan. Some people even had two or three part-time jobs a day. My original plan was that I would work in Japan after graduation, so I could help my mother to live a better life and to pay back my brothers for their years of support. But my decision met with strong disagreement from my family. They were worried that I might lose my job in China, which in their opinion way too high a price to pay.
Later, when I was walking past my junior high school on my way to my mother’s house I accidentally came across my former schoolmate who was a teacher at a local school. I told him about my dilemma. He was totally against my decision to go to Japan. I said;”Why?” He said that we fought for so long just to get this hard-won iron rice bowl, how could you give it away. Japan was for the rebels, the illiterate, people who are not able to finish their education, people with no future promise. Their families had no choice but to send them to Japan. We should not “dance with the wolves”, and you should not hang out with these people. I thought his words made sense, so I gave up my plan to go to Japan. Read more

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我的故事 ~ 1. 有时候换一片土壤,也许可以开出不一样的花


Flag of the People's Republic of China“我本不是做建筑业的,但是就好像佛典底下的老鼠,听着听着就成精了…

我们来到这片全新的,非常陌生的土地,一路上走过来,从最初的长一点知识,学一点喜欢的东西,学一点英语,再赚一点钱;从当时的不入乡随俗,不喜欢,然后变成了喜欢。喜欢上了以后,国内很好的工作也辞去了。在这里从零开始,一路上走过来,确实是一个非常艰辛的过程。有悲伤,有欢乐,有艰难,有困苦,有兴奋。

我是1963年出生的。老家是福建福清市,县级市。感陶,市底下的一个镇。我家不在城里,所以我是百分之百的农村户口,百分之百的乡下孩子。我所说的乡下,就是以种田为生。有人说:“靠山吃山,靠海吃海”。我们是没山也没海,所以我们就不靠山不靠海,不吃山不吃海,就是贫贫的几亩地。最普遍的是地瓜,然后种一点水稻、花生、蔬菜,仅此而已。

家里面我兄弟都很聪明。我五个兄弟当中,大哥、二哥、三哥都念过小学。我大哥念到小学毕业。二哥三哥因为父亲去世了都没念到毕业,然后老四和老五一天学校都没念过。我几个兄弟死活要培养我念大学,所以我是书念得最多的一个。我原来是福建省商业专科学校的。84年考上去的,那时候竞争是非常激烈。像我们那边,是100个选一个。我87年大专毕业,是第一届商业专科学校,念的是商业企业管理。在学校里面,我们都是来自全国各地的孩子啊,有志气。毕业后分配的单位是一个非常好的单位,福建省办公厅。我所在的岗位又是跟经济有关系的。我是个农村孩子,我对自己定位很清楚,我这辈子绝对不能在经济上犯错误,再大的诱惑我都不要。当时因为我们福清那边有很多人出国。他们一个礼拜赚比如说400澳币,就2000多人民币,那时候澳币兑人民币6块半,所以一个礼拜就可以赚两千多。我那时候一个月工资才125,一年才1500块钱。他做一个礼拜,我要做两年。所以我当时就想,两全其美,跟我老婆一起来。我们出去,第一学一点英语;第二长一点见识;第三我们赚一点钱回来,然后好好工作。

那时候去日本比来澳大利亚热。因为日本赚钱快,但是我们后来才发现,澳大利亚是好很多的。日本劳动强度太大了,有的人一天要打两三份工。当时想,87年一毕业,我就去日本那边,因为家里比较穷嘛,我也想孝敬一下我的老母亲。同时也想能够在经济上有点起色,因为那个时候兄弟毕竟年纪也大了,又没有读书。所以我是想去日本奋斗几年,对兄弟也算是报答了。我就想去,家里却一直不同意,说我不能去,辛辛苦苦培养你,你去了,怕工作丢了,代价太大了。

后来,我回老家的时候,经过我念初中的那个中学,我一个同学在那里当老师。我就跟他谈起这件事,他跟我说绝对不能去。我说为什么?我们奋斗了这么长时间就为了这来之不易的铁饭碗,你要把它扔掉。日本是什么人去的?都是那些流氓加文盲去的。那些没毕业的,在家里没出息的,家里才送他们到日本去拼的。我们不能与狼共舞,你不要跟这些人为伍。我一想也有道理,就不去了。

到了89年,我就申请了,家里也是觉得挺困惑,觉得拿不住。我兄弟一直不肯,还是我母亲,她说,整个人生是他的。我母亲虽然没文化,但是人很开通。她说我相信儿子有志气,他不会出问题,他会有成就。最后我答应她,我说我去两年就回来,最多三年。这样,家里面才同意,我就来了澳大利亚。 Read more

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My Story ~ 2. The Country Behind The Forests


yinyang-web-at-100mm

“As time passed by, I gradually got to know Australia. It was different from what I saw at first glance from the plane–a land covered by the forests. I slowly started to see the friendliness and openness of Australian people.”

Actually, my memory is not so good, but there is one day I will never forget. That day was August 22, 1988, when Perth, Western Australia came into my sight. As the plane was landing, I could see no houses, only forests. Hence, the first thing that had occurred to me after I came to Australia was that I would have to cut down trees for a living Otherwise, what could I do in this place? Where could I find a job? This place was so underdeveloped, even worse than China. Could I earn money here? I doubted my brother’s recommendation to come to Australia.

In my hometown, my brother was a very successful entrepreneur with a wide range of social contacts and aware of all the latest information. Originally, I didn’t plan to come to Australia. My brother helped to arrange me to go to Japan. Lots of Japanese classes and English classes were set up for those going abroad. The reason why so many people wanted to go to Japan was that they said it’s easy to earn money in Japan, and the social type and skin color are similar. I studied Japanese in the evening. Afterwards, my brother heard Australia was a better place to go if you wanted to establish a new life. His friend’s sister happened to be married to the principal of a language school in Perth, Western Australia, so I registered with this school. I could not speak any English when I first came to Australia, let alone knew much about the country.

When I was at middle school, I only knew that Australia was a developed capitalist country with agriculture as the main industry. “Australia rides on sheep;s back”, I heard that milk was from a tap and someone also said that the tap water was drinkable. Thinking of this today, they had their reasons for saying this. In fact, the milk here is very cheap; a large can of milk only costs two Australian Dollars. You can’t say they were fooling us, or exaggerating.

After coming to Australia, I had to spend a lot of money renting a house. In China I lived in my own house. I found the price of daily necessities here were far higher than in China, however the wages were very high, so I wanted to find a job. Soon after we arrived, we had nothing to do. We just wandered about with friends who had come to Australia before us. On Sunday, we went to a weekend market in Fremantle, which we Chinese call a “flea market”. It was fun to stroll around the market. There was lots of staff for sale and you could buy some very good second-hand goods for fifty cents or one Australian dollar. I met a couple also strolling around the market. The husband was Australian and his wife Chinese. Because there were not so many Chinese there, I felt happy to meet them. We greeted each other and kept each other’s phone numner. Later on, I found out that her husband was Australian and had studied traditional Chinese medicine in China. After coming back, he opened a clinic of traditional Chinese medicine on London Street located in the center of Perth. He specialized in acupuncture and tuina and treating sport injuries for his clients. They were very friendly, so we sometimes went to chat with them at their clinic. Due to the language barrier and unfamiliarity with this new place, it was hard for us to find a job, so I hoped that my local friend could help us. At last, thanks to his introduction, I found my first job. Read more

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我的故事 ~ 2. 森林背后的国家


yinyang-web-at-100mm“时间让我慢慢认识了澳大利亚。它并不是我第一眼从飞机上看到的东西,只有满地森林。慢慢的,我看到了澳大利亚人的友善、真诚

其实我的记忆力非常不好,但是有一天却记得很清楚。8月22号,西澳佩斯入境。那是1988年8月22日,飞机要降落,我看下来,看不到房子,都是一片森林。于是,我来到澳大利亚的第一件事就是想到要伐树。否则到这里来干什么呢,去哪找工作呢?这地方也太落后了,还不如国内呢。能赚钱吗?我心里就有些怀疑我哥的安排。

我大哥在我们老家是一个比较成功的企业家,社会交际广,信息也相对流通。原来我不是计划来澳大利亚的,最早我哥是帮我安排去日本的。因为去日本的人多,也有说日本容易赚钱的,肤色种族也差不多。当时有许多为出国人开的日语班、英文班,我也准备去日本而在晚上学了日语。后来哥哥听说去澳大利亚更好,正好他朋友的妹妹嫁给西澳珀斯的一个语言学校的校长,在国内我就报了这个语言学校。刚来这里的时候,我连英文的一二三都不会说,更别说对澳大利亚的了解了。

以前读中学的时候知道澳大利亚是一个发达的资本主义国家,以农业为主,是“骑在羊背上的国家”。出国前听说澳大利亚水龙头打开就是牛奶,还有说自来水都可以喝的。今天想一想他们说的也有道理,实际上这里的牛奶跟免费的差不多,那么大一罐牛奶,两块钱,也不能说他们忽悠我们,或者说是夸大其词。

来到澳洲之后就觉得物价比中国贵很多,因为在国内都是住在自家的房子里,这边租房就是很大的一笔费用。但是也发现了这边的劳动工资很高,于是就想去找第一份工作。那时候,我们刚来,没事做,天天跟着这一班比我们先来的有车的朋友到处去晃悠。有一个星期天,我们就去到Fremantle(弗里曼陀海港)的一个周末市场,我们中国人可能叫跳蚤市场,在里面逛挺好玩的,什么都有。有时候淘些二手货,5毛1块这样的也挺好。在逛的时候碰到一对夫妇,男的是一个澳洲人,女的是中国人,因为那个地方中国人也不多嘛,能碰到中国人都觉得特别的亲切。于是我们就打了招呼,彼此留了电话。后来我知道她的先生是澳洲人,在中国学过中医,回来后在珀斯市中心的伦敦街开了一个中医诊所,给客人做针灸推拿和运动扭伤的治疗。他们非常热情,于是我们有时候就跑到他们的诊所去跟他们聊天。因为我们在这边找工作不容易,一个是语言的因素,再一个人生地不熟,认识一个朋友,又是当地人,就希望他帮我们介绍工作。后来他们就真的通过他身边的朋友帮我问工作的事情。最后靠这位朋友的介绍,我找到了我的第一份工作。这是一个做意大利糕点的公司,生产的商品有的送给航空公司,给头等舱的贵宾客户用,有的批发给本地的咖啡店。我在里面主要做清洁工,负责帮他们洗磨具,以及收工的时候清理地面。我在珀斯的这段时间主要就是做这个工作。后来因为移民局拿到了我的工资单,发现我打工时间超出了规定时间,违法了要遣送我回国。移民局的官员把我装在囚车里,往机场开。我说我要回家拿行李。他们把车开到我住的房子的楼下,怕我跑了,就把我锁在车里,两个人拿着对讲机上楼去给我拿行李。他们一走开我就在看怎么能出去。最后我把那个车窗上铁栅栏掰掉,又把那个窗户打开,但是它太小,钱包被挡住了,我只能扔掉不要。当时一分钱都没有,我只能躲在一个废车库里,又冷又饿又不敢出去。人生最苦的就是那段时间。一个中国电视台的导演曾建议我把我的这段经历编成电视剧。

珀斯是不能再呆下去了。我的一个朋友给我了车票钱,我坐了三天两夜的大巴来到了墨尔本。到了墨尔本已经是89年,中国留学生已经挺多的了,他们来了以后基本上都能找到工作。找到工作以后他们通常还会跟老板讲一下还要不要人,我们有朋友。中国人在这边打工是很受欢迎的,因为没有身份,所以很听话。澳洲当地人他们不高兴就不做,反正他们有福利的,而我们不论好坏都要做,而且人勤快,效率高,所以比较受当地老板的欢迎。在墨尔本之后,朋友就介绍我去工厂。第一份工作是在工厂给汽车做塑料配件,注塑,Toyota汽车商的各种配件都是从那边做的。那个工作大概做了两年,我又做过几年的印布厂监工和铸造工。 Read more

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