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
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
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
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
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
我在家排行老小，5个哥哥，就我一个女孩。从儿时有了记忆开始，就已暗自决定，我一定不要在中国呆着，一定要出国。理由很简单，在我6岁时，全家人被遣送到内蒙，眼看着父母受到那么大的委屈，遭了那么多非人的罪，我不要重蹈他们的覆辙，我一定要想办法离开这个国家，我不想在这个国家呆着，太痛苦了。看见我父亲母亲每天受的那些折磨，遭的那些罪，我幼小的心灵在淌血。那时我还没有上学，但我知道“折磨”、“遭罪”和”“贫穷”的含义。我记得，本来全家人在城市里生活得很舒适安逸，一觉醒来，啪的一声就跌进深渊僻壤了，刹那之间，变得一穷二白、一贫如洗。从中产阶级降至牛鬼蛇神。我只知道像我父母的家庭不应该这么穷，究竟是什么原因所致就不清楚了。没有人给我解释，但我似乎明白这是国家和历史的原因。所以我从小就想一定要出去，离开这个不讲道理的地方。但是因为时间段没有好的契合点，一晃9年就过去了，到了78年全家人返回城里，直到我长大成人了，也没有出得去。后来结婚，生孩子，再后来，孩子也长大了，我就把希望寄托在了孩子身上。就像“微信”上说的：“一种人特别聪明，他自己要去做事情。还有一种人特别笨，什么都做不了，她就下了个蛋，就像鸟一样，然后派这个蛋出去。” 我就属于这后一种人， 我就是个笨人，下个蛋，把自己所有的希望都寄托在这个蛋上了。可能由于潜在的历史原因，加之跟前夫没有共同语言，很快我就成了单身母亲。一个人带着孩子苟且偷生。等女儿上学的时候，我压根儿就没准备让她在中国参加高考。从性格上分析，女儿跟我极像，直，一条道能跑到黑，不带拐弯的。但是从待人处事方面，她就显出太弱势了。如果她要是在咱们中国继续生活的话，我不是说中国不好，咱们中国历来这个人际关系网太复杂。加之我这孩子又不是特别灵透，在中国生活会很艰难。孩子上学期间，我一直往她的脑子里灌输要出国留学的想法。到了2008年，女儿高中毕业以后，没有参加高考，我直接把她送到澳大利亚的大学来读书了，读护士专业。那时候我在国内还得上班，女儿一个人在这边读书，由于生长在单亲家庭，孩子似乎成长得特别快，瞬间就长大成人了。虽说初到澳洲时，女儿一个人生活学习还要打工，那种艰难可想而知，但是她坚持了下来。两年后，女儿就给我申请到了探亲签证。
我第一次来到澳洲是2010年的12月16日。来到了澳洲，第一印象特别的深，当我下飞机的时候，是夜里十一点多，孩子在机场接我，一路上什么都看不见，只有漆黑一片。静悄悄的，偶尔有两道白光从对面照过来，近处才知道是汽车。第二天吃过早饭，女儿带我出去走走遛遛，到了外面，可以说我是百感交集，那陈封了40多年的记忆匣子顿时打开了。出现在我面前的酷似内蒙古大草原！记忆中的内蒙古，是一望无际的草原，被当地人称之为大草甸子，到了夏天大草原绿油油一片。抬头望去，那湛蓝湛蓝的一尘不染的天空，酷似内蒙古哲里木盟！哇，这两个地方的天和地实在是太像了！另外，还有一样更相似的，那就是人。在我看来，中国的蒙古人和澳洲的原著居民应该是最早开化的，文明程度比其他民族要早好多年。他们自然朴实，心地善良，不绕弯子，比起某些所谓的文明人士要更好相处。我第一次来澳洲拿的是探亲旅游签证，一年期限，多次往返，每次在澳最长只能呆三个月。 我就在一年的签证有效期内，每三个月往返一次，做了十五个月的空中飞人。辛辛苦苦积攒的那点钱，多半给孩子交了学费，其余的就交给航空公司了。当然了，我要把这钱挣回来。在澳洲的每三个月，我都去打工，明知道这是不合法的。另外前面我讲过了，我是有备而来的，在国内时我就四处询问在澳洲除了打餐馆工以外，还有什么其他工作，不需要语言，又能挣钱，因为我没学过英语，最多知道三个字，Hi，Bye，和thanks。后来听说做按摩比较容易，又能挣钱。我就在国内学按摩做好赴澳工作的准备，同时也做好了心理准备，因为我当时在国内的工作跟做按摩可算得上是天壤之别。一个全职播音主持，改行给人做按摩，您可以想象的出来那种感受吗？但出国是自己终生心愿，且挣的又是澳元。决心已定，目标明确，虽然是半路出家，没有多久，便可以自行操作了。到澳洲的第二天，我就奔着按摩店去了。很快发现，这里的按摩店良莠不齐，大多数是中国人开的，用中国人的话说，有的店是黄色的，也有做正牌的，我做的那个按摩店就是一个正牌正规的按摩店。凭着自己脚踏实地的工作精神，加上来澳前临阵磨枪地读了些中医解剖学、按摩技巧书，很快被店主和客人认可，每个月的收入能达到五千多澳元，当然是每周7天都工作很累，但很自在。不过，在澳洲也不能说是没有任何人际间的问题。我遇上的店老板，多数都是中国人。中国人有中国人的特色嘛，有些人也是蛮难相处的。中国人的那种典型的曹操的心理，你做的好他怀疑你，你做的不好他诋毁你，外加上自己不会外语，有些港台来的年轻打工妹，明目张胆地欺负你，知道你听不懂英语，故意跟客人套熟给她们自己拉客，我虽然听不懂，可心里明镜似的。但是人穷志短嘛，这句中国古语说得太到位了，特别适合我当时的处境。我需要钱，所以我低头做人，什么事情我都能忍。 Read more