In the process of doing the interviews for this podcast, more and more common themes have emerged. There are certain things that are important in different ways to everyone, regardless of where they come from, but that we do a bit differently according to the environment or culture that we grew up in. Examples are food and hospitality, family or love and romance.
There are also various common themes relating to the experience of being a migrant, though these are not necessarily universal, such as culture shock, language and communication styles, finding a job, buiding social networks and finding friends, and for some there is the experience of escaping a dangerous or threatening situation and becoming a refugee.
I wish that the platform that hosts my podcast would allow me to curate the episodes by themes, so that people could perhaps find the episodes that might interest them most more easily. As this isn't possible at this time, I decide to release few compilation episodes with clips connected by some common themes. The first one I released, which you can listen to/watch above is on food and hospitality. There have been so many interesting takes on this, that I think I will release a second episode at some stage.
FOOD AND HOSPITALITY
One thing that has come up again and again is the cultural difference between here and many other countries around hospitality and the expectation of hosts and guests. The same observation has come from interviewees from Eastern Europe, SE Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, and that is that if you are a host, you are expected to feed your guests and have food on hand. It's also more common to just be able to visit friends and acquaintances spontaneously. In fact I remember one man commenting "Now, I even need an appointment to see my mother!". I hasten to add that this was never the case in my own family home, where my mother often had guests drop by and always offered something to eat and a cup of tea, but it does seem like this kind of hospitality has definitely become less common in Australia, which is a bit of a shame.
On the other side of the coin, as you will hear in one of the clips in the compilation. Darya ( Ukraine) notes that she did feel like it was a lot less pressure hear to have to worry about preparing food for guests and always having things ready in the house for unexpected guests. Our way of life here also probably doesn't lend itself so well to receiving spontaneous visits, though I myself feel like this is a bit of a shame and I feel like it means that we are less connected than other cultures/societies.
Food is also something that has many powerful emotional associations. Smells and tastes may remind us of a special place from our childhood or a person that was important to us but is now gone or far away. It can make us recall good times and offer comfort when we may half a world away from our homeland. And of course, food serves as something that brings people together - it's associated with important family and community gatherings, good times and good spirit. It's a topic that everyone can identify with, and therefore I think a great entry point into understanding new cultures and people.
ROMANCE AND RELATIONSHIPS
I think most people enjoy a good "how we met" story, and most people who are married or in a long-term relationship have some kind of story about how they met or how they got together as a couple.
Meeting someone and falling in love has been a really common reason why people have either ended up in or stayed in Tasmania. Probably the most common reason of the 66 people that I've interviewed so far, and the circumstances have been quite varied, and sometimes the stories I've been told almost sound like they could have been a scenario from a romantic comedy !
In this compilation there are 9 different people telling stories of how they met their partners or how they got married. In one case, Adel describes what he terms a "spectacular" surprise proposal on the roof o Parliament House in Canberra, which is well worth listening to.
One of the clips, from Claudia ( Switzerland), I have played to live audiences a couple of times and it has always got a great reaction, as her romance that started through the purchase of a used Datsun on Bruny Island with little common language, truly is the stuff of romantic comedy.
But at the end of the day, these stories are not just about entertainment, for me their importance is in highlighting the fact that no matter where we come from, what we look like or how we speak, we are all human with many of the same qualities and desires. I hope through these kinds of stories that in some small way, it can help us identify the humanity in one other and break down some of the perceived barriers between us and make people want to know more about those from different cultural backgrounds.
If you just like a good yarn though, there is also plenty to choose from here and I also strongly encourage people to seek out the full episodes of the people featured in this compilation to learn more about their experiences.