It’s no real secret that I am here in Melbourne as the first step in our overall plan to relocate here.
I have studied, lived and worked in Australia before. I grew up in Malaysia, and spent my developing late-teen years here.
In individualistic ways, I am a minority. Having obtained secondary and tertiary education here and having worked on both shores put me a unique position- of outlook, experience, cultural and language backgrounds. These are perhaps the qualities that past immigration policies stressed on when they look at multicultural policies and also during attempts to address the skills shortage and its ageing population, in the competitive (now comparative?) global markets.
But I am not getting into politics here.
I can therefore speak a few languages and Chinese dialects as a result- I always tell people that one of the “given” advantages of an ethnic Chinese growing up in an Asian city is that one would automatically pick up at least one dialect. In KL it is the widely spoken Cantonese, Penang would be the local flavour of Hokkien, Malacca would be Mandarin, etc., without actually needing to attend a vernacular school (but which I did- thanks mum In Singapore ethnic kids are required to also take on their respective mother-tongue as a language subject, on top of English.
But as you have rightly guessed, I am now wondering what my children will be like when they are growing up here, eventually.
In a lot of ways, I don’t want them to be “typical”. Not using myself as a model, I do wish for them to be upstanding unique citizens. I know all parents want these for their kids too, but if you take me and HM in this context- we are different in the local context; and I am looking at this in an optimistic light.
But what about the kids? They are still young, and will still be when they move here and be just another “product” of the local system.
Of course, this is almost-literally two sides of the same coin: They too would be a product of that system over there.
So then we come back to the original question: Am I doing the right thing for the kids? Am I doing this for selfish reasons of my own preference for wanting to live here, and thus “dragging” them along without the maturity and knowledge to offer their own opinions and preference too?
At this stage I can only offer that what will shape them to be un-typical would be our methods and values in raising them in the local environment. Yes I am generalising here, but I would wonder how many (“young”? parents out there have the kinds of background that HM and I have? A few, but not many, I would think.
And if I sound arrogant, I am not. I am looking out for my kids given what tools I have for this job.