My parents spoke a different language at home, identified to a different culture, and held strict religious beliefs. They associated with the local Dutch community, of course, to keep abreast with news from Holland, speak their own language, and celebrate cultural days of significance, but they also ensured to do their utmost to be Australian.
Aussies followed traditions my parents needed to learn. The Aussie slang was difficult to understand. Men wore blue singlets, loved drinking beer, and were passionate about footfall and motor sports. These things were new to my parents. Coupled with this, every week we had bible studies at home. The only music I heard in our house was classical and opera.
Hence, and due to my lack of self-confidence, I felt alienated. A feeling of not belonging. There was a slight distrust and suspicion amongst some of the locals. But though Aussies were different, at the end of the day, they were the same. Happiness, sadness, confidence, or the lack thereof, we all feel the same way.
My father often complained about the mocking he had received about his accent. It annoyed him. My mother mastered the English language like a professional and was better at spelling than most Australians. My father initially did not, his accent was acute and difficult for people to understand. We certainly did not feel that Australia was a discriminating country, but some of its citizens were. We understood that there are people all over the world holding their own discriminatory beliefs, and we were not stuck on this notion. We were after all grateful to be here.
My parents, although homesick from time to time, realised the great opportunity given to them, and that is to make a good life for their children. Not once, did they feel ungrateful, or that somehow Australia owed them a good life. This was their opportunity, but it would come about with toil and effort.
Mum loved the climate, the free open spaces and the easy going way of life. She was social and eventually had a large circle of friends, they often visited for lengthy coffee and gossip sessions. Politics, religion and everyday news, hot on the topic of conversation.
These days we are ensconced in the Australian way of life. This did not come about without effort and being passionate about Australia, and its environment. I will do, everything I can in my power, to preserve our way of life, our flora and fauna is precious to me. Call me a greenie if you like, as if that’s a bad thing, I have been called worse. I do not care.