Thursday, August 5, 2010

Citizenship is a global society

Given that online courses contain a mix of international students, many of whom are living or working outside of the country of their birth, reflect on your experience with the concept of citizenship. You may wish to include observations about your context (Do you live in a multicultural/multiracial society? How inclusive is the society and culture?), your own situation and activities (Are you a participant or observer in that society? Are you a citizen of the country in which you live? Do you have dual/multi-citizenship? How does that affect your participation? If you are an active citizen, are you an educated one? Why do you say so?) and the actions of others (Would you characterize yourself as a mainstream member of society or a marginalized member? Are there opportunities for you to exercise your citizenship?).

My context
I have lived in Australia for three quarters of my life, the first quarter being spent roaming through Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Malaysia and traveling from India to England where we lived for a few years before returning to Australia. I guess this contributed to my identification with the outsider, the underdog, despite being blessed with being born in an affluent culture, well educated and being in a secure family environment. Moving around meant being exposed to the bullies whenever you started at a new school because you were new, or different. I'm extremely grateful for this because I think you grow through being challenged, and because I don't doubt that if I had been brought up in a more closed environment I would have conformed to the dominant mindset, which I find in Australia is rather insular, tainted with an underlying racism, economically dominated and thoroughly Western (individualistic, consumptive) in its outlook despite being part of a greater Asia.  

I once had a job on a Wheat bin out of Geraldton in the mid-north of Western Australia. The hardest working member of the local team was an aboriginal man who happily pulled the weight of the rest of the employees because he knew that was what kept him employed. He couldn't join them in the crib room for smoko, because he wasn't part of their circle, so he kept working. He was a 'good' Abo, but an Abo none the less. The local population was also having a bit of whinge about the Asians coming in an taking over the market gardens. The ironic thing was that the loudest complaints came from the 'Wogs' who had met exactly the same reception when they set up their market gardens after the war. The Italian migrants had become fully integrated into Aussie culture and my only hope is that so will the Asian immigrants in time and that the blend will keep the good (industry, perseverance) and lose the bad (resistance to change, isolation from our Aisan neighbours, consumerism).

My situation and activities
I have recently moved to a small coastal village on the the Far North Coast of NSW. I can't say I am a very active participant in society at the political level, but do try and participate in community groups, i.e. Mothers group (Even if I am a Dad) and tuckshop duty at my daughter school. I am active in some global contexts, i.e. Interest Groups through Social Network tools, such as LinkedIn eLearning and Education groups as well as membership of organisations such as Amnesty International. I do want to participate further in politics, however it will need to wait until I can devote time and energy that are currently occupied with raising children and study.

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