Australia Day, 26 January, 2012.
My story is as Australian as you can get.
I am what I believe to be the quintessential Australian.
My attitude, my mind, my openness, my never ending need to learn, my gratitude after years of travel at coming to the conclusion that Australia is without a doubt, God’s country.
Here’s my story, please read it and if it resonates, get behind sharing it to help anyone who thinks that being Australian is exclusive to anyone.
I will share with you the genetic pool that is Amanda Foy:
- Aboriginal – Yuin people – Koori give or take 40,000 years
- French – came to Australia in the 1800s
- English – settled in Esk in the 1860’s and also Sydney
- Chinese – came here in the Gold Rush times in the early 1900s
- Norwegian – jumped ship in the early 1900’s
- Irish – travelled to Australia in 1915
I grew up across the road from two Latvian people who had to flee their native home because of war and the lack of opportunity for family. Postie and Vilma were two significant memories for me in my childhood. I think growing up listening to them gave me a good ear for understanding people with strong accents.
I have lived in New Zealand, I learned to speak general polite Maori, I learned to carve bone, swing pois, eat pippies instead of fish with them, felt earthquakes for the first time, swim in thermal pools, got welcomed onto a Marae and had hongi with a number of people I’d never met, went eeling, learned about the ancestors stories of the mountains, ate freshly caught snapper, paua fritters, lived and experienced first hand at the importance and significance of extended family.
I have lived in England. I lived as a local in the country in Wiltshire, I had friends that were fertilizer farmers from Somerset who liked to line dance on a Sunday at the Home Guard. I lived in London working with a German company, with Egyptians, English, Irish, Scottish, Australians, Greeks, Canadians, Germans, Croatians and a man from the Seychelles. I went into an antique shop one day and pulled a book off the shelf that was published 10 years before Australia was officially ‘discovered’. It was 12 Quid.
I lived in Sri Lanka for six weeks, my first third world experience. I was the minority, I was the white person, who stood out from the crowd, I was treated differently because of the colour of my skin. There’s two kinds of being treated differently – being made to eat first at a wedding because I was white and the bride and groom standing there watching me as I fumbled for the first time to eat with my fingers with the curry landing in my lap and collectively me and everyone under the canopy laughing, being hassled to buy things because I personified wealth – naturally, I was a foreigner and had to be rich; then sitting at a Buddhist festival where these children hadn’t been close to a white person before and coming to sit close to me, or eventually on my lap and touching my skin to see if it was real.
I have worked for American Oil and Gas Companies dealing with the Governments of Papua New Guinea, I’ve travelled to PNG and been privileged enough to see the nationals living in the huts in the highlands and all that comes with that. Simple lives – but with heavy duty weapons involved. I also got to stand on the beach in Weipa and watch the Duyfken land and asking the Wik people for permission to come ashore…following ancient maritime rules.
I have worked for a Brazilian Meat Company, learned Portuguese to get by with reading a little and understanding a little, learned that they sing Happy Birthday in a much more fun way that truly celebrates what a birthday is supposed to be and that they eat inordinate amounts of meat. Muito bom!
I have travelled to Turkey, stood at the landing point where the ANZACS landed, looked over the bay that Simpson (of Simpson and his Donkey fame) gets to see each day of his rest; I have traveled to the Maldives, Italy, France, Ireland, Dubai, New Caledonia as well. Each and every country I have traveled to I took time to make sure I had enough of the language to be polite, count and apologize that I couldn’t speak the language and ask if they spoke any English. I respected their traditions and beliefs and dress codes at all times!
Oh, and I learned survival Japanese in grade 12 just in case I thought I might go there for a holiday one day. I can still remember how to count and ask if you eat breakfast every day ;-).
Our neighbours are Indian, soon to become Australian citizens. They work, pay taxes, and go to school. Our children love each other like all best mates growing up together should. My husband and I could not ask for better neighbours, we are truly blessed.
I am an Australian.
Can you get my message? Get amongst it people! Living, learning and being around other cultures will make you a better person and you can’t be ignorant, because you’ve got a really good quantity of cross reference material.
Anyone with an Australian Passport, a birth certificate or citizenship certificate, no matter where they were born, where their parents were born, what colour their skin, has the right to be Australian.
Australian’s live a certain way. We are easy going, when the going gets tough, Australian’s stick together to help each other, which was evidenced in droves in 2011 and many times over the decades.
Our politicians cry without when it means the most.
We are proud of our service men and women and embrace what they do and have done for the freedom of our country.
We eat Lamb.
So, if you have had a passing thought at any stage while you sit here being Australian that anyone needs to ‘go back to where they came from’, you need to go and do what I did and work out your genetic pool and decide if you should go back where you came from too? Do you want us to turn into some of these other countries we get to watch on the news?
There is no room for ignorance in this country…it’s 2012 folks.
Being Australian is… [fill in the blank].