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WINGS THEMED MEETING - Leaving/Going/Being Home (2 Jun, 2021)

The meeting in June was my first WINGS meeting and I found it unexpectedly stimulating. The talk was by Sue-Anne who is from Singapore and I found her to be charming, articulate and gracious. Her dance afterwards was particularly beautiful. Sue-Anne shared with us her experiences as a migrant to Whangarei and some difficulties she has encountered. Although I grew up in Auckland I have been living overseas for many decades and have only been back in New Zealand for the past two years. I understood some of Sue-Anne’s experiences as I have had some of them myself as Whangarei is like a big country town with attitudes to match. The question of an incident of racist behaviour arose based on being singled out due to skin colour and causing embarrassment. I found this very thought provoking and pondered it for some days after. Ultimately, I felt it could have been a misunderstanding due to a more rural, direct way of dealing with a perceived problem around someone from a large, highly regulated city. The eternal question arose of how a new arrival meets new people and makes friends in a country which prides itself on being friendly. My observation is that many new arrivals resort to having friends with people from their own country rather than locals as it all takes a long time and the multiple stresses and strains of getting to know a new culture can be exhausting. That exhaustion can lead to heightened sensitivity and feeling out of place. Nonetheless, a good meeting and a great place to experience another point of view other than my own.

-- By Bernadette

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