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177 Nations of Tasmania - Episode 38 - Chile and challenges

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

With each new episode I seem to uncover something a little different but which nevertheless speaks to a kind of common humanity or something which may describe a personal experience from a particular time and place, but which would be relatable to many across time and space.

In this episode I did recently with Nancy, from Chile, a couple of themes really stood out for me. The first was how deeply linked political events can be to the personal, and how profound the impact can be. The military coup in Chile in 1973 can be to those, like us in Australia, an abstract, historical event, but in Nancy's story it meant one day children got milk...and then they didn't. The poor suffered, the rich celebrated. It's certainly not the first migrant story I've heard of injustice and repression, but the milk example illustrated so well what the coup meant for many ordinary people.

The other theme that was more unique in terms of the interviews I've done, but probably not amongst those migrants fleeing political and social repression, is the guilty of having left. In Nancy's case, she always thought to return to Chile, and so didn't put the effort into trying to put down roots in Tasmania initially. It's a mindset which made sense when Nancy explained it, and I've heard other political refugees, in particular, say something similar, but I think it's also something important for those living comfortable lives in Australia to hear and understand.

Peoples' situations are complicated and they bring with them all sorts of baggage from their past. Although Nancy acknowledges now it was a mistake to adopt that mindset, it is also understandable and I'm sure there are others who have experienced this feeling also.

The third theme was about Nancy's return to Chile and not finding it as she had expected - she had changed and Chile had changed. This seems to be quite a common experience for migrants who have returned to their country of birth after a long time away ( often enforced). I've heard similar stories from Eastern Europeans who have returned to their countries after the end of Communism. It can be hard to unpick the factors that cause this feeling, but no doubt living in Australia for a while must change a person's perspectives and expectations.


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