To the new Australians from the early 1980’s – I’m sorry


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 Recapping for others, I am a child of the early 1970’s.
 I grew up in a largely Anglo-Saxon middle class suburb on the North Eastern side of Melbourne.
 It was a fast growing neighbourhood, after many many acres of  farm land were subdivided, new families moved in, creating fantastic business opportunities for the hard working Australian.  
 The funny thing is, back then the majority of  ‘hard working Australians’ actually were not Australian, they were what we labelled  the ‘new Australian’.
 Some of them arrived on Australian soil with the clothes on their backs and bucket loads of dreams.  
 It was a golden opportunity to give their children everything they missed out on growing up in a remote village somewhere in a distant european town or an overcrowded city in Asia.
 Our little Catholic school triple in size with the expansion of new subdivisions and arrival of the ‘new Australians’ into our community.  School had no less than 600 kids in attendance each year across the early 70’s to late 80’s.  It was a huge school and it was there that I first became aware that not all families lived and looked like mine.
 The humble cheese and vegemite sandwich paled in comparison to the oversized crusty loaf and fancy ‘smelly’ cabana meats my friends were having in their school lunches.  My friends were having hot meals at school well before tupperware introduced its microwave friendly range.
 Some of my friends were the first generation of english speaking people in their families.  After the school day had finished they went home to a house that only conversed in Italian or Greek or maybe Mandarin.
 It was so foreign to me that my friends communicated like this – some of them were actually teaching their own family how to speak english.
 While it was never part of my makeup to poke fun at my friends parents struggling to learn english, I do remember judging them for not learning and understanding their new language fast enough. 
When I arrived in Chile almost one year ago, I was beyond excited to be forced to learn a new language as an adult.  Bring it on I said, I can do this! I will do this!
 Weeks into the new school year, eight weeks after arriving in South America, I was waiting to collect the children in the car park, and a fellow expat mum approached to introduce herself  and enquire about my quizzical look placed across my face.
 She appeared happy to listen, so I proceeded to offload my struggles with failing to grasp the Spanish language.
 “They talk way to fast here in Chile”, “they appear to swallow their sounds or not pronounce their words correctly” , “they don’t understand me”,” I hate this language barrier, it makes me want to stay inside all day”, “it’s harder than I thought”
And now in the midst of dealing with my struggles towards learning Spanish as a 2nd language, I regress back to those days of my youth when I would perhaps laugh or mimic those ‘new Australians’ attempting to converse with me in the streets or at the shops.  
 Does this look or sound familiar.
“g’day mate, how’z it goin?….wha ya doin this arvo, wanna hang out?  
And I expected them to understand me, what was I thinking!
My hat goes off to all you new Australians, you arrived in a country not understanding one spoken word.  There was no iPad or google translate for you to fall back on.  You pushed through all your barriers and you challenged yourself to learn your countries spoken language.  You are my new heroes and I salute you.
I am sorry if I judged you or laughed in your face with your attempt to speak my language.  Now that I have a small insight into what may have also been your struggles I can see that I was wrong to expect more from you than you were already trying to give.
Onwards and upwards, I will master this Spanish language before I leave Chile and I may even challenge myself to write a blog post (a very short post) entirely in Spanish.  
Adiós por ahora,
 ¡Salud, SorrentoMoon
 PS – Happy Birthday to Michael J Fox – 9th June, 1961.  One day our paths will cross, I’m sure of it!

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