Arman's journey from growing up in rural Bangladesh, through boarding school near Dhaka to studying in Tasmania, has in some ways followed a familiar pattern of many migrants. Often they have hit some kind of obstacle or challenge in life and have made a decision to make a new start. Perhaps they don't always recognise the challenges they are going to face, but once they are, they learn to adapt and open themselves up to new experiences and new directions in life.
In Arman's story I found many examples of this - applying for his first casual job by handing his resume out at a local coffee shop and desribing the anxiety and uncertainty that he felt, volunteering for local organisations and getting involved with local cricket. What struck me about Arman, as with other migrants I have talked to, is that most are risk-takers who, though they may be anxious about stepping into unfamiliar situations, will make the leap.
It's always interesting to find out a bit about each person's upbringing, to see if I can cast some light on the forces that have influenced or shaped who they are. Of course, this always going to be a bit superficial, but there are usually a few themes that stick out. In Arman's case, it was interesting to hear about the amount of social and peer pressure to be a certain way. As in other Asian cultures, the level of expectation to succeed in education, to get a high status position are high. On the one hand, it speaks to a society that puts a high value on education, something that is perhaps not so strong in Tasmania, but also an immense invisible pressure on individuals.
Something else that hope people get from this conversation and others is just how community-minded many migrants from South and South-East Asia ( and elsewhere) are, and one can see in Arman's involvement in volunteering a real commitment to giving something to the community in which he lives. This is no unique either, and I think it's something that maybe isn't acknowledged or appreciated by locals as much as it should.
Of course, this, like all my interviews, is just a small window into the culture and thinking of Bangladesh, but I hope it will make people more aware of this perhaps overlooked migrant group in our community. I should add also that it's been a really pleasing surprise to get some really nice and supportive feedback from the Bangladeshi community, some in direct messages, in response to this episode - thanks for the support guys !