International Initiation

“…local practices must change. They must change. Australians are often… too parochial, trapped within an Australia-centred view of a diverse and complex world.” (Marginson 2012)

Imagine moving to a new country and trying to learn a new language, with no family, friends, anybody or anything familiar around you. The money is different, people look at you different (if they notice you at all) and you just can’t seem to fit in to a multicultural society that – by definition –  is supposed to be embracing you.

As one of the hardest spoken languages on earth, Australian culture gives the english language a run for its money with it’s various shortcuts and slangs. Many students who travel to Australia to study find it difficult to keep up with the variations, having only learnt proper english by the book, not the version edited by society. These differences make it hard for overseas visitors to feel accepted or at home, because when they have trouble understanding you and you them – it’s not likely you’re going to strike up a conversation and form the kind of relationships people do in order to break down cultural barriers and most things tend to get lost in translation.

In order to create a welcoming and stable environment, it’s important to offer more support and encouragement than we would each other, taking into account that international students are automatically starting from a point of spoken and social disadvantage; and of course that over a third of our population is already foreign-born, and

The saying “treat others how you would like to be treated” comes to mind when explaining the importance of helping international students feel accepted and at home, especially as a young adult. I have personally never stepped a foot outside of my own country, but I know that I will, and when I do I’ll be putting a lot of my security, safety, language and direction into the hands of other people, and I could not honestly imagine doing all of that alone, could you?

References

Abs.gov.au 2010, 1370.0 – Measures of Australia’s Progress 2010, viewed 4 September 2015,<http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/1370.0~2010~Chapter~Overseas%20born%20population%20(3.6)&gt;

Marginson, S 2012, Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience: International education as self-formation powerpoint slides, viewed 4 September 2015.

My culture is not a trend

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We all have that one friend that goes to parties dressed up in a crewed moustache and sombrero, an African-American headress or wears sparkly bindi’s or other body jewellery to every outdoor festival. It’s easy to think of these cultural dress’s as an ‘outfit’ when coming from a place of privilege, something to try on or off at will, without regard to the native people these cultures belong to.

That really is the key word when understanding the difference between appropriation and appreciation: privilege.
As westerners we adopted the traits of every culture as a result of colonisation and the forced assimilation of indigenous people, which is why for example wearing or selling a headress outside of this culture is not okay, because it is unjustly taking something from somebody else and profiting from that market – somebody else’s culture is not yours to objectify, it is not a fashion accessory.
It is also important to remember that appropriation is not spread equally between cultures because power is not spread equally, and as a result of forced assimilation reverse appropriation cannot be applied to minorities.

Throughout history we have seen constant attempts from the Western world to own these symbols of identity, from casting non-indigenous and white people to represent people of colour and from different nationalities, creating and appropriating rap music – to the social adaptation and commodification of dreadlocks everywhere, by wearing or contributing to this market you are by definition stealing from somebody else to make their culture profitable.