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Several of the B H I E C students interviewed here have chosen to remain anonymous. The photographs included do not therefore necessarily correspond correctly with the interviews.

Steve's Journey


On Tuesday 16th March 2004, our Yr l2 ESL class went down to B.H I.E.C. I interviewed a boy named Steve. He shared his journey from China to Australia, including his emotions and thoughts during the journey. From his detailed description, I have had a better understanding of the Area of Study—Journeys.

Steve used to live in a big city in China called Guang Zhou. It is a busy and a highly populated city. His parents migrated to Australia before him, and he was left in China with his sister. Due to the familiar environment and the love and support, he has been left with happy memories.

Steve got onto the aeroplane in October 2003. After 9 hours flying, a long distance physical journey brought him to Australia, a new country which to him is full of unknowns. On the way, Steve was kind of calm, because his parents and sister was with him. This is an opposite feeling to our main characters Molly, Daisy and Gracie in the text, film, Rabbit-Proof Fence. For the purpose of reuniting with their own culture and more importantly with the family, Molly led her young sister and cousin through the harsh land and avoided the people who were chasing tightly after them to recapture them. In comparison, Steve's reunion with family is peaceful and pleasant. However, he still has got his inner journey or growth. Steve asked himself: "what is it going to be like" frequently on the aeroplane. Since the supportive family was next to him, he didn't feel nervous, instead, knowing clearly that he had taken the responsibility to help himself as well as his young sister to fit into a new life. This is similar to the duties of our main character Molly.

Steve thought this country was going to be friendly and clean, but language was going to trouble his life for a period of time, as no one would always accompany him and interpret for him. Luckily, he is determined and realises that as he and his sister work hard together, they will overcome this obstacle in life's journey. While he was sharing this, the smile of confidence and hope was on his face. Once again, the imaginative journey of Steve's future occupied his mind, by reading his eyes the bright future is communicated to me.

However, reality put Steve down a bit by the time he finished the long and exhausted physical journey in the aeroplane. Steve stepped onto Australian soil, and his emotions came out one after another strongly and passionately. Steve's eyes were going through the houses, meanwhile, his emotional journey went on and on. Yes, Australia is different, it is clean, but far too quiet. He couldn't feel life around him except for the plants which abound. The environment is totally different from the city he loves, he used to enjoy the busy and active life. At this point, Steve realised that his life journey diverged, he can't turn back to where he started off—his familiar land, therefore he needs to go forward.

Studying in the I.E.C. is the main thing in Steve's daily life now. In the I.E.C, Steve's cultural journey continues, because the I.E.C. is such a multi-cultural place. Different nationalities gather here, and study together. English is the subject that Steve puts most of his efforts into. He believes that once the problem of communication is solved, the boring feelings about this city will decrease. With this positive determination, Steve can be cheered up easily by learning a new word or a new expression as well as knowing a new friend.

In his spare time, Steve extended himself physically into different areas of Sydney. He explored various life styles. Along this physical journey, he set up his own goal. He will apply to a high school to continue study, but unlike other Chinese students, he has no willingness to go to university. As our strong character Ken in the set text, Whose Life is it Anyway? Said: "Each man must make up his own decision..." This guy, Steve who has experienced the clashes of cultures, languages and life styles, he has his personal growth, associated with his inner journey, he understands that in the future he's more likely to do what he likes rather than what his parents expect. Steve made up his own mind. He prefers to be a chef. Steve's life journey continues, I wish him luck to get to one of his life journey's destinations—to be a wonderful chef.

Nana's Journey

Valerie YE

On March the 16th, the year 11 ESL English class went to Beverly Hills Intensive English Centre to interview the IEC students, in order to expand our understanding of the area of study—Journey.

All of the IEC students immigrated to Australia with their family. Obviously, they went on the physical journey, from their homeland to Australia. There are many types of journeys, during this physical journey, the emotional journey, imaginative journey and other types of journeys as well.

Nana was my interviewee. She came from Thailand, she has been here since January. In my opinion, her life is so complicated. She was born in Germany. When she was two years old, she immigrated to Thailand with her family. Her mother is an Indian, her father is Thai. Nana has mixed blood.

From Thailand to here ,she spent serval hours in the air, that is definitely a physical journey. Before Nana come to Australia, she was so excited and confused. Excited because she will be living in a new country and she was starting to imagine what Australia would be like and how her life in the new country would be. There were reasons why she wanted to come to Australia. Firstly, she wanted to study here to learn the language. Learning English in Australia is better than learning English in Thailand, there are more chances and opportunities in Australia .She also felt bored to stay in the same area for all of her life. She needed to find some stimulus, she wanted to discover more about herself.

Nana suddenly looked a little bit upset. She said: Although I am enjoying living in Australia, I have also met several obstacles in my life." That reminded me of the poem 'the road not taken' where there is much undergrowth and challenges. The composer walked along the road, and the undergrowth and obstacles prevented him from going forwards. This is similar with Nana's Journey. She felt the hardest thing she had to face was to speak a different language here. Language is a big obstacle . She also had the problem of finding new friends because of the different culture, different language we speak, different topics we talk about". She lives without her parents. They work in the countryside. When she was on holidays, she went to visit them. She lived with her grandma u I feel the way I live is so hard, I hate cooking ,I have to help my grandma, anyway, I feel like I am the nurse looking after the old people."

After Nana came to Australia, she had to learn more about herself. She learned how to live without her parents and menage herself and live independently. She 11 also learnt how to improve her relationships with people and learned about the people from other areas of the world and learn more about multiculturalism. She also learnt to respect the others and understand more about others.

In my opinion, Nana is an interesting girl, she was talkative and we had a satisfying conversation. She also is a brave girl and she always has the courage to overcome the adversity. We had a good time during the interview.

After I interviewed Nana, I realised emotional journeys and inner journeys are closely linked to physical journeys as well. Emotional journeys can inspire physical journey.


An Interview

by Jia Li Hu

Today, we had the opportunity to interview students in the Beverly Hills IEC Centre. I feel very glad that they agreed to tell their stories and let us into their lives.

However, life wasn't as easy as I thought. They reported feelings of isolation and a lack of purpose, language barriers, had made it difficult to become actively involved in their communities. Through most of their life journeys, they encounter a number of obstacles and challenges. Here is the journey that my interviewee, who chooses to remain anonymous, experienced when he migrated to Australia.

When he arrived, he couldn't understand any English at all. He was so scared to go outside that he'd rather stay home all day long. He felt this way because he couldn't adapt to this new environment immediately. Sydney is so different compared to China. The foreign people, foreign culture and the foreign environment, had replaced his familiar feelings of his city -Shanghai. I believe his decision to come to Australia is a big turning point in his life's journey, however, his migration is a journey which is filled with many challenges that await him.

Soon after, he went to ESL classes to learn English, but sitting in a big class, he was too nervous to talk and felt embarrassed to ask questions. Most of the time he just sat there quietly until the lesson had ended.

When his parents went to work, he felt even lonelier in this strange world. This isolation he experienced was due to him recently moving to Sydney, with little knowledge of this place, and language barriers that made it difficult for him to connect more with his surroundings.

As time went by, he slowly came to realise that he was studying in a pleasant and harmonious environment. The class was informal and the teachers were friendly. He started to feel relaxed and comfortable to talk. From his progress, he has learned many everyday English words and conversations, and actively joined group activities.
Soon after, he had many friends in the IEC Centre. They came to Australia a few months earlier than him, spoke the same language and came from the same country as he did too, so they freely shared their feelings and experiences together.
Not long after, they became good friends. His life changed since he made many friends in the language school. They went out together, making new friends, and experiencing more about the lifestyle of the country. All these contacts and caring support from his friends really opened up his mind and got him out of the isolated life. He started to feel that the world around him wasn't so strange and fearful, and he was concerned about and taken care of by many people.

Overall, through my interviewee's experience, his story had helped to build a bridge of understanding between us. I can see how he encountered few obstacles and challenges, to slowly overcome his problems stage by stage. This interview is very useful and relevant to my area of study - Journeys. He had experienced change, obstacles in his life, but was able to overcome them. This has further expanded my understanding of this topic.


Samah's Journey

by Qing Hua Rachel XIE).

Each year, thousands of people migrate to Australia for various reasons, and each person ‘s experiences are significant. The interview with a young Jordanian girl Samah, who migrated to Australia four months ago, assisted me with my study of journeys. A journey suggests a movement form one place to another and includes all the experiences under gone along the way. The young Jordanian girl’s physical journey to Australia, incurs experiences which affect her psychological state, both intellectually and emotionally.

Physical journeys occur over land or sea, and also tend to be accompanied by learning and understanding. Summer was born in a traditional Muslim family in Jordan, which is a small South Arabian country. She spent her childhood there and had started schooling before she migrated to Australia. “ I didn’t know much about other countries, but now I begin to know some of them. I know Australia has more wealthy natural resources than my country, also the society is more democratic”. This physical journey has given Samah an opportunity to learn about the world.

In addition, I come to understand that the physical journeys could result in learning about new people. Summer met many different people in Australia through the journey. People from Asia, Africa, Middle-East and so on which has broadened her horizons. “ I cannot imagine that there are so many cultural groups of people in the world. I find that their cultural values are different from mine, I couldn’t understand them at first, but now I think that these values are not bad…”. This evidence shows us that there is interaction between people who are from different ethnic groups. Summer’s interaction with other people has made her more tolerant of others. Her journey is from one point of belief to another point of understanding and acceptance, hence she is also having a mental journey during the physical journey.

Physical journeys often involve emotions, and many people can have a stronger connection with their homeland when they take a journey away from home. During the interview, Samah showed her sadness of leaving home: “ it’s very sad to leave a place that you’ve lived in for more than 10 years…”. Also she always shows her love and connection to her country: “ I miss my homeland. Every week I look up the events that happen in my country, and the internet and phone are the way I keep in touch with my homeland. I’ve never been so connected with my homeland”. This is similar to our set text, the film “ Rabbit Proof-Fence” by Phillip Noyce. When the main characters, the three young half-caste aboriginal girls Molly, Gracie and Daisy is taken away home to begin a physical journey, they are extremely emotional, this can be seen through their sorrowful expressions. The Rabbit Proof-Fence which provides the physical path home for the girls, is used as a strong visual symbol of the connection between the girls and their family. We learn from this that physical journeys often involve emotional journeys.

Making choices is an important part of our life journey. The decision we make can affect our next stage in life and even the future. Migrating to Australia is a personal choice for Samah. This decision has meant that she has gone on a physical, emotional and intellectual journey. She gains a better education and future in her life journey. Samah’s choice can remind us of the issue of personal choice in the play “ Whose Life is it Anyway” by Brian Clark. The main character Ken Harrison is paralysed from the neck down after a serious car accident. When he realises that his life is no longer worth living, he decides to be discharged from the hospital. This personal choice can make him die, that is it influences his life journey. All of the above show that a choice may make a person’s life totally different, it changes the direction of one’s life journey.

Journeys are powerful, they challenge us, but also extend and inspire us. In the young Jordanian girl’s life journey, we can see that she is over coming the adversity which is challenging her, extending her and encouraging her. “ language is a big obstacle in my journey, but every time I learn a new word, I will be inspired because I know that I am developing”. Journeys are the processes of overcoming adversity and development.

The interview lasted for about half an hour, but nevertheless it furthered my understanding of the concept of ‘journeys’. The physical journey to Australia has impacted on the young Jordanian girl, who has developed physically, emotionally and intellectually. The power of the journey challenged her thinking and broadened her understanding of new places and people. Also, through her journey we can learn about the importance of personal choices. Samah will continue her life journey with the great passion—“ I want to be a nurse to help people”. This is the catalyst of her journey, it will inspire her to go on a successful life journey.


A Life Journey

by Sylvia Liao

Everyone has their own journey, and hers, all began on the 24th of July 1987, in Sudan, which is a beautiful place for her to come into this world. Everything was just so wonderful with happiness and laughter. However, everything suddenly changed one day.

The war came when she was in year 4. At this time, every child is supposed to be having a happy life with their families, and studying hard in school with their friends. But unfortunately, many children were taken away from their families by the invaders in Sudan during that time. They were forced to work until they reach 14 or 15 years of age. They all underwent an emotional journey as they could not live with their families, and they could do nothing but just accept the things happening to them. This reminds me that in our main text Rabbit Proof Fence, the main characters Molly, Daisy and Gracie, were all forced to leave their family as well. Also, we could see their emotional journey as Gracie said ‘Molly, I want my mother.’ which had shown the sadness and loneliness of being taken from their home.

She was living with her father, mother, uncle and her younger brother in a big house when she was still young. As she was just considering herself fortunate to have such a wonderful family, the war came, and it took her father and uncle away. She had never ever imagined that one day she would need to live without her father’s protection. She could never forget the time she needed to face the sadness of losing her father. This is the same as the short story Afghanistan. The author had the same situation as the girl interviewed, ‘yes, [they] should leave ’, in order to escape from the war.

As she had no choice but to leave her country, her physical journey began. Her mother sold their big house to gather the money for their expenses on their way to Egypt. She had to say goodbye to her home in which she had her most joyful time with her family, and also say goodbye to her happy childhood. She began to imagine the life they would have in Egypt-- bad conditions, no food, no money and working, which became the imaginative journey of hers. At that moment, all the emotions were coming to her at the same time, “ I did not know what difficulties I would need to face, but at least I knew that my life would not be back to the one that I wanted after we went to Egypt.” which indicates that this physical journey leads to her personal growth as she began to live without her father’s protection.

When they arrived in Egypt, they had nowhere to live, and their money gradually became less and less. Although she was supposed to continue her year 5 studies in Egypt, she could not even get food for school. They were desperate unless they had a job to support their lives. As she was the oldest child in their family and her mother needed to look after her younger brother, she had to work. She found a job in a big house as a cleaner in Cairo. However, she could not see her mother for a whole month, until the day that she got her wages, and took them back home. Her journey in Egypt is similar to the text Whose Life is it Anyway, where the main character Ken Harrison, does not have the right to choose his path. Ken was in charge of the medical staff, and she was controlled by the house owner.

It was really hard for her-a 14 year old girl, to persevere with through the days that she had in Egypt. As she was wondering whether their life could be improved a little bit at this stage, her mother got in contact with her uncle in Australia. He said that he could help them migrate to Australia, and have a better life here. From that day, she began to expect the day to arrive, even though she was excited to go to Australia, but when the day came, she was a little bit afraid. This is similar to the screenplay Journeys over Land and Sea. People will have fears when they are heading into the unknown. She did not know what kind of country it would lead her to, so she began to imagine how beautiful the place would be--clear blue sky meets sea, lots of trees and flowers around her new home, again, she underwent the imaginative journey, but this time, everything got better.

By coincidence, she had her 16th birthday just the day before she came to Australia. It might suggest that there would be a new life for her in Australia. Also, she had set her new target already, she would do her best with her studies, and she would like to be a doctor after she finishes her university studies. Now, she is studying in the Intensive English Centre at Beverly Hills, and she enjoys the time that she has here, even though language is the biggest problem for her. But she is overcoming it in just 7 months, and it is her intellectual journey --from the first day she came here, she knew no English words. Now she can speak English fluently. She tries to speak as much English as she can, and she does not mind the people who are laughing at her, as she knows that nothing would be worse than the days that she had in Egypt. Once she learns English well, no one can laugh at her anymore. Therefore, her English becomes better and better, and she finds that it is much more easy than Arabic.

Everything is wonderful for her and her family now, except that she has not got friends yet. Not that she has no friends, but just not ones that she can share her inner feelings with. However, she won’t give up, she knows that one day she will find those people again. They will be reunited.

She is glad that she has the chance to come to Australia, it brings her the freedom and the rights that she is supposed to have. Here she can do the things that she would like to do like: singing, dancing, playing volleyball, etc. which she could not even think about during her time in Egypt, but now she can. She can also get the chance to fulfill her dream as well--to be a doctor. And she knows that her life journey will be more colourful in Australia, it will continue to extend her understanding of the world and herself, just like that from the two physical journeys. She has learned more skills such as living by herself. She is not the one that always needs parents’ protections. Moreover, she has learned that we need to change ourselves to adapt to the new environment and not wait for the environment to fit us, otherwise we could not overcome the difficulties. Also, at the time that she was learning English, she found that she has got the potential of learning language, all of those things that she has learned, since she got the opportunity to come to Australia, bring happiness for her again.


A Journey

by S

On 16th March,2004 we went to the IEC to interview the refugee students who have lots of stories to tell the world, to convey the message of livinga hard life when war comes upon our lives.

One of the teenage students of Beverly Hills IEC (Intensive English Centre) had migrated to Australia from Africa, one year ago. She was born in Khartoum, which is the capital city of North Sudan. She grew up there, throughout all her positive and negative experiences. She saw her country as beautiful and free, then she also saw her country and its people in a negative way during the war.

She saw people killing their own citizens and other corruptions. Her father was a politician but she never got to meet him. He married twice and in 1996 he died. After facing that sorrow they suddenly had to face another huge problem which made their life more miserable. Her step mother got all the assets and properties of her father by force so her mother would get nothing. Before 1998 her sister died by cow attack in the bush and in 1998, her elder brother died.

In 1999, they moved to Cairo which is the capital city of Egypt, because of the war, bombing and because there was no food to feed themselves. They entered Cairo after a one week journey by train and ship. At that time, they had no one to take care of them or help them. As she said; “life was becoming harder”. Then they had to go to UNHCR (the western migration office for refugees) to ask for help but the staff said, they will contact them as soon as possible. But time flies so fast and taking their breath away, still no respond from UNHCR. They found one of her cousin’s place to live in and were waiting hopefully with a dream in their eyes.

After one year of waiting they went back to that office and the staff suggested they migrate to USA but without her brother which was impossible for their mother to agree with. Also, she thinks USA is not a good country to live in. Then after having all these arguments the staff were allowed them to migrate to Australia with all of her family on 18th March, 2003. After they migrated to Australia they were so happy and they celebrated to express their feelings. They had to stay in a refugee camp which was a place in Liverpool. For one month they had to stay even though the migration lady told them to stay for only two weeks but as they didn’t allow them to leave, they had to stay for a longer period of time, by force.

After leaving that place, they went to her Uncle’s house in Belmore. Her mother was overwhelmed being Australian but she wasn’t that much happy. She is reflecting and is missing her relatives. Also, she doesn’t like Australia because she thinks the people in here are not very friendly even though she enjoys the IEC very much and doesn’t want to go to High School.

Therefore, the journeys she went through, are physical with emotions and inner journeys where she had to face all the obstacles which improved herself and changed her lifestyle.


Sophie's Journey

by Xin Zhao

The word “journey” for many people means “travel”, or “a trip”. However, journey, isn’t only about that. We go on a journey every day whether we notice it or not, these journeys are what build up our life’s journey - a journey that continues until we reach our final destination. The following is about one person’s journey. It is an interview with Sophie about a migrant’s journey; it has had a profound impact on the travellers’ life.

Similar to Molly and Ken Harrison, the main characters in “Rabbit Proof Fence” and “Whose Life Is It Anyway”, Sophie started her new journey because of a dramatic change in her life. Sophie’s parents decided they were going to migrate to Australia. For Sophie, a 14-year-old Chinese girl, that meant she was forced to change direction in the life journey that she was taking. She felt as if she was standing on a diverged road, without knowing what would happen on the path she was about to take.

Without much time for a deeper thought, Sophie started her physical journey to Australia, a strange country. Inevitably, this physical journey created a lot of complex emotions for Sophie. She felt lonely in the first few weeks. “I didn’t want to come here. In China, I have so many friends, but here, I have no-one.” Her mother is the only person Sophie knows in Australia. Her father is still in China. Her mother has to work till late. So each day after school, Sophie goes back into an empty house and for a while she feels the emptiness until her mother returns home. This reminds me of the scene in “Rabbit Proof Fence” where Molly and her sisters have their first night at the Moore River Settlement. Molly feels uncomfortable and lonely in the Settlement. She desperately wants to go back home. I believe that is what Sophie also experienced when she first arrived: a strange country, unfamiliar language, a place with no friends around. A loneliness filled her.

However, her situation got better as friendships developed in the I.E.C. Sophie met many people who are in a similar situation as her. They understand each other and they speak the same language. With the help of the teachers and friends, Sophie is starting to get used to the life style in Australia and has her own social life. She has started to go out with friends, go to shops and to movies. Sophie is beginning to enjoy her life. “I still feel lonely sometimes.” But she has passed the most rugged part in her new journey already, the road will become more flat and easy as she goes on.

Sophie’s story is pretty similar to the story of other migrants. Sophie grows up rapidly because of this rare experience. Sophie has been forced to grow up because of her experiences. Her future will be completely different because of this journey. “I don’t regret come to Australia. Although the life wasn’t easy in the beginning, but I know that is will become better. I will have a better education, more opportunities in Australia. My future will not be in China.” This is what the journey taught Sophie. This life experience has changed her a lot, and has changed her perspective of the world. Sophie admits this too. She won’t be the same person anymore. The way she thinks is totally different from the people who grow up in China and are the same age as her.

This inner journey is similar to what Ken Harrison has gone through in “Whose Life Is It Anyway”. His perspective and how he views himself changes dramatically after a car accident. His choice is to be respected, to be allowed to make his own choices about the direction his life will take. For Sophie, migrating to Australia is only the end of her old journey, and the start of her brand new journey. She is optimistic and brave enough to take the challenges life offers.
Sophie also talks about her dream for the future. She wants to become a doctor, specialising in Chinese medicine and to travel around the world. Wanting to become a Chinese medicine practitioner shows the strong connection between Sophie and her culture. She is from a Chinese background with an Australian Chinese identity. Just like the half-caste Aboriginal girls in “Rabbit Proof Fence”, their strong connection with their Aboriginal culture cannot be erased. The reunion of Molly and her family proved that to the audience.
Sophie’s story doesn’t end here. She will continue along her life journey, and head in new direction. She is a Chinese immigrant in Australia who, step by step, will fulfil her dream, overcome adversities and continue her life’s journey.

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