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Feb. 28th, 2002

what must it be like to live in Sydney, and not speak english? to know only a handful of words, and to be completely unable to hold a conversation.

how hard is that individuals daily life? to walk into a supermarket and aim to buy milk, but lack the verbal skills to understand how much it is, or, in some cases, to even ask for it? how much frustration must this build in you. would it reach the point that you would wish, day in and out, that you had not come here? that (assuming this fictional person had come from a country worse off than Australia) you would look around at the sudden decadence and feel that it was doing nothing more than alienating you even further. that the toaster, microwave, television, everything you suddenly had, was unable to compare to the simple pleasure of saying, 'i'd like milk, please.'

wouldn't it be nice if we could all speak three languages? that we were taught these other languages are birth rather than in school, where it becomes a chore. you would think, that in a country aiming to be an epoch of multiculturalism, that such a thing would be encouraged. that the government might offer free language classes to not only its migrants, but the people who live here.

on weekends, when i teach, i teach to kids who speak another language. once, a girl asked a boy in her class what he thought about me in vietnamese. (apparently. this is what the boy told me later.) but it occurs to me sometimes, that the only people truly embracing this idea of multiculturalism, are these kids of immigrants. only they embrace two worlds: that of dominate white culture, and that of where their parents came from, at least in their language.

it is, perhaps, those people with families deeply routed in australia that are behind the black eight ball, because they are unable to identify with two cultures, unable to see how two different, the problems and the issues that need to be approached in the future of the country.

well, it's worth a bit of thought, don't you think?