Having written a blog post about some of the common themes I've come across about migrants to Tasmania, I thought I'd also write about some of the things I've picked up from migrants' observations about Tasmania and Tasmanians in the podcast.
One of my motivations for starting the podcast was to get a range of different perspectives on living here in Tassie, and I've always found it interesting to explore other perspectives on a variety of issues. People who have come from outside will bring a whole lot of different experiences and culture elements that give them fresh perspectives on our state and observe things that long-time residents or 5th-generation Tasmanians may not. I think this can have a benefit for migrants and locals alike, but here I will just be talking about it from view as a long-time resident.
Of course, I am used to hearing outside perspectives mainly from students and they are generally coming from a different vantage point, with less experience and inight perhaps than most of the migrants I've spoken to. I also have plenty of friends from migrant backgrounds, so to some extent I thought I had some idea of what people would say, but quite a few things have surprised me somewhat and those things I'd like to share.
The first theme that has been common is about community/family, and is not so surprising in itself, what's been surprising is that the observation has come from people from quite divergent cultures, whether the Philippines, Czechia or Tanzania. They have all observed how their own cultures are focused on the extended family or the "village" i.e a collectivist mentality, while here we have a much more individualistic mindset, where individuals are frequently expected to be independent and fend for themselves. In particular, in more traditional European and Asian cultures the elderly are much more repected and cared for by families. Some have also commented on both the pros and cons of both systems. For example, having an extended family involved in your life can also be annoying when a cousin wants to have a say about how you cut your hair. My Venezuelan interviewee also commented how he thought young guys here were more "serious guys" because they were encouraged to be independent and look after themselves from a younger age, while in Venezuela the guys tend to be spoilt. But many of the descriptions of how people in other cultures such as a the Philippines, Romania, Tanzania or Turkey might behave to look after and support the members of their "village" reminded me a bit of my grandparents' generation and how we have perhaps veered too far over into individualism here in Australia.
Another observation that has been made in a few interviews, and that did surprise me somewhat, was the question of making appointments with family and friends. This came particularly from those of Eastern European and South American background. They noted that see people here you couldn't just "drop in" but had to make an appointment before visiting someone at their house. Initially, I just thought this observation was a bit of a one-off anomaly, but now that it's come up a few times it's occurred to me that there's something to it. One Peruvian guy even obserbed wryly that he had to make an appointment to see his mother these days, unthinkable back in his home country ! I should mention though, that this was never the custom in my family and I have always been a "drop-in" kind of guy to my family and close friends. My mother would also always offer guests food/a cup of tea etc, as is expected in Eastern European and a few other cultures. So, this observation opened my eyes a bit.
Finally, many other interviews have made me realise just how much we take for granted and how lucky were are to live in an environment that is clean, safe and secure with many accessible and free amenities that the average local maybe just expect. Sometimes it takes someone from outside to make us realise how good we've got it.