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Educating locals

Community Member


I’m an international student from south east Asia (Chinese) and want to open a discussion about the best way to educate Australian locals about cultural differences and why ethnicity and nationality matters in a foreign country.

I have a friend who is Australian and in every way not Asian. I realise that there are some differences in how we were raised in respect to physical intimacy, humour, temperament, etc. He’s a lovely friend don’t get me wrong. And he isn’t the only person that I wanted to educate.

I wish to find gentle ways to educate locals on the reasons behind my actions (cultural). I have seen people brush past me, my friends (all Asian) and foreigners in general on situations such as racism, stereotyping and believing we have the same rights as citizens do. (Surprise, not really.)

And our way of coping is “That’s how it is as a foreigner in Australia”.

4 Replies 4

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Yen2 Thankyou for your post and welcome

Im so sorry you have experienced this and welcome to Australia I hope you are liking it here
I think it is very important to educate Australian locals about cultural differences however the best way to do it? I'm not sure
I think having a polite open discussion could be a good way to start
Hope this helps and I'm looking forward to seeing other suggestions

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Yen,

i and truly sorry about what you are going through. I understand how hard it is. I am half Indian and half Afghan and I'm Muslim, so I get how racist people can be.

I guess the only way we can really educate others is by promoting our cultural values and what they mean. Either using social media or word-of-mouth. It is difficult, but we can only do our best.

I hope you are staying safe and I am here to chat if you need me.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Ni Hao and Ni hao ma? (that is all the chinese I know) ,

I hope you are enjoying your Australian education. Culture is a very special thing as it is apart of a person's identity and It is very amazing that you want to share it with others. An excellent way to educate it through food I believe, alot of Australian people very much enjoy chinese food. But I have been told by a few chinese people I have met at uni, our restaurant food tastes very different to traditional chinese food. So, you could start by having a meal cooked by yourself to share with your aussie mate! Or better yet, if he also likes to cook why not get him over and teach how to make your faveourite dish. Talk about chinese culture while you are preparing food with him! Or what about some chinese movies! Bruce lee? Jackie chang? Recently I watched a great movie on netflicks called the ying yang master, all the actors were chinese. Movies, music and food are excellent places to start cultural discussions.

Unfortunattely sterotypes and racism happen in every country. I am italian heritage but Australian born. I suffered some of this as I was growing up. Yen, I tell you something with the younger generation I believe we are making changes towards being kind to other cultures. Young kids are learning to accept every nationality when they go to school and I love meeting international students when I get to go on university campus. I make it my mission to sit next to or introduce myself to an international student at the start of every class. I love it, I love asking questions too. I hope what I have recommended could be a bit of a starting point for you to start a conversation about chinese culture.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hello Yen2,

It's nice to meet you here. My parents moved here from China about 30 years ago, and I was born here, so we have a similar background but have slightly different experiences.

In many ways, I also get that feeling you describe of "That's how it is", even though I was born here. But I find it is often enough when friends or strangers just accept my stories and what I have to say, without needing to feel like they have to defend any stereotyping or racism or misunderstanding. In these cases, I find it can be helpful just to tell them bluntly that they are my experiences and I'm just asking that they listen and don't need to provide hints or commentary or anything like that.

Otherwise, I don't really go out of my own way to educate people unless they ask, because I tend to think that people who are interested like Postive_vibes89 has said, will tend to ask me anyway. And for those who aren't, a conversation about Chinese culture is likely to be uninteresting at best, and unnecessarily confrontational at worst. Some of my best friends treat me like they treat anyone else, but they honestly could not care less about my Chinese culture - they respect me for who I am, respect that we have differences, and that is really all I ask for.

So if people are interested, I think it is often quite easy because they will ask questions and show they want to know more. If people are not, it can be a bit difficult to have an in-depth conversation and they may not be as interested as we may want. But hopefully, they will also be able to respect that you have different experiences to them due to your culture, and understand that it's really important to you.

It's a challenge for sure, but I think if we all start from a place of respect of individuals, people's natural curiosity will lead to more questions and greater understanding.