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Chinese in Western Australia
Dear everyone at the forum,
I think that Fiona Lee is exceptionally lucky to be able to do academic
research on the Chinese in Perth. I think it's good to learn about the
Chinese people all over the world, so I'm sharing the letter she sent me
with all of you. It's fascinating. She's working on her Ph D thesis, and
only 23 yrs old. Most young women at this age think about their social
life, some think of their careers, and some think of their ethnic identity,
like Fiona. She's even helping us with some ideas on how to get the youths
involved in the Toronto Hakka conference
(http://www.members.home.net/hakka), she has suggested an open forum for
youths to discuss issues. Isn't Fiona great!
p.s. if you have ideas on how to get the youths involved in the conference,
email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you.
Just a quick summary of my academic background. I started school in
Malaysia at Garden School which is a British run school for ex-pat kids.
When in Perth, I attended Presbyterian Ladies' College for the rest of my
primary and secondary school years. I started my tertiary studies at the
University of Western Australia as a psychology student and transferred to
Curtin University after my second year when I decided that psychology wasn't
where my love or talents laid. I graduated with a double major in history
and politics and a minor in psychology. I took a year off to work before
returning to do my honours in history with a thesis on the history of the
politics of the Contagious Diseases Acts in the UK last century. With first
class honours I was granted a scholarship to do my PhD.
I was born in Malaysia to British educated parents, because of their work
contracts with British companies, we were allowed to attend the British
schools. At school we were not allowed to speak any of the "native"
languages. At home everyone spoke English anyway. When we moved
permanently to Australia there were only 4 other people who were Chinese at
school. We grew up as Australians in all senses of the word.
My interest in the Hakka community is non-academic at present. As I told
Keith, I was fascinated by the inter-generational transfer of stereotypes.
There are two basic types of Chinese young people in Perth - you are either
Chinese or you are Australian. It is extraordinarily rare to find anyone
who have had the opportunity to embrace their hybrid identity. This stems
mainly from the fact that most of these young people are second generation
immigrants from the 1980s.
I am not entirely sure about the make up of the Hakka community in Perth.
Anita Chong would be the best person to contact for that information.
The oldest Chinese association is of course the Chung Wah Association
started in 1909. The next largest is the Chinese Community Centre which use
to be the Chinese Business Centre started in 1979 as a result of
irreconcilable differences with the CWA. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce is
also an offspring of the CWA started in 1987. The nature of the CWA has
changed a lot since its conception especially since the end of the White
Australia Policy which changed the migration patterns into WA.
There are about 20 other organisations catering to the Chinese in Perth but
they are based on religion or nation of origin. The population in Australia
is divided predominantly by nation of origin and socio-economics rather than
ancient clan systems.
I think that it is great that the Chinese who use your forum are so open
about issues that face them. Unfortunately, we are not so lucky here in
Australia or in Perth.