I am an immigrant!

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Last night when I got home my house was spick and span to the point where even everything on was dressing table was lined up neatly. No I haven’t developed OCD. This is just one of the perks of living in Hong Kong where hired ‘helpers’ are an everyday part of most people’s lives! Hired FOREIGN helpers!
Women who work as helpers in Hong Kong are hired from the Philippines and Indonesia! And help is cheap! Ridiculously so!
I have to admit it came as a shock when I got here! To see the majority of children at school being dropped off and collected by women other than their mothers was a little hard to get my head around! Yes, people use nannies and childminders in the uk but over here a ‘helper’ is a standard part of any family, so much so that they account for 3% of the whole population! They cook, they clean and they take care of the children!
To be honest I’m not quite sure where I stand on the whole thing…. As with any disadvantaged group; women employed on low wages are far more likely to become victims of abuse!
Yet the women who work here do so because they’re looking for a better life for themselves! They send money home to their families and they work damn hard! You can fault the system that employs them but you cannot fault them!

Just like them, I also came to Hong Kong to make a better life for myself! Not because I was living in poverty but because I longed to broaden my horizons, experience new things and expand my mind! I’ve also been extremely fortunate to be furthering my career whilst I’m here! And when I looked to move abroad, I was entirely selfish in my intentions, this was about my experience and about my life! I certainly didn’t have any sort of overwhelming desire to make great contributions to the Hong Kong economy! In actual fact, I hadn’t even considered Hong Kong as an option before I applied for the job here! I was happy to move anywhere in the word as long as I could work and see something new! I didn’t spend a year learning a new language or researching the culture! So here I am, living as an immigrant in a country where I don’t even speak the language!!

I’ve been here two months now and my Cantonese stretches to about two words (I’m not kidding) and my mandarin is similar! I actually learnt more Turkish when I was on holiday there for a week! And the reason I haven’t learnt anymore… I don’t really need to! I’ve landed in a country, thousands of miles from where I live and yet they speak to me in MY language (and what’s more I selfishly come to expect it)!
This is one of the many benefits of being English! Of being born into a country that colonised so much of the world that we don’t have to learn to speak anything else! And yet so many English people expect those that come to the UK to speak English! How dare they speak anything but!
I spend a lot of my time out here with immigrants…. (Except that we call ourselves expats!) Sometimes I genuinely forget I’m not in London! We stand in our groups, eating western food and chatting in English! And no one has once shouted at me to go home or to speak in Cantonese ( actually maybe they have but I wouldn’t even understand that)

As a white British national I try not to take too much for granted! I recognise that I was born into a privileged position! Even the fact that I get referred to as an expat and not an immigrant highlights my privilege. I was born into a country where no one tries to bomb my home, where I’ve never struggled to put food on my plate and where I was blessed with a free education system that, for all its faults, served me well! I can’t help but feel that this is total luck of the draw ( well actually I think God put me where I’m meant to be but I can’t be political and religious in one post 😉 I can’t help but wonder why people think that being born somewhere gives you rights that noone else should have! I was born into one of the wealthiest nations in the world, in a country that could provide me with everything I could ask for… And I’ve still chosen to leave! Because I see how big the world is and I want to experience all it has to offer! And why should I be allowed to do that just because I’m educated and have been handed opportunities, and other people shouldn’t! Why shouldn’t everyone be allowed to pursue their hopes and their dreams and experience all that the world has to offer, regardless of what opportunities they just happened to be born into!

Many people are currently calling for a ban on immigration into the uk, or atleast tighter laws! The country should only accept those with a degree or certain qualifications! I find the notion absurd! The concept that only certain jobs are worthwhile or can make a contribution is slightly crazy in my mind! Not everyone is fortunate enough to have qualifications to support themselves and some of those
people are a lot stronger than me! I moved here with a good job, my flights were paid for as was my first months accommodation! And yet it was still bloody tough! Missing home was a killer when I first arrived! I can only imagine how hard it must be to try and make a better life without any of the privileges that I was afforded!
The people that make the decision to leave their families and friends in search of a better life should be applauded! They should be welcomed with open arms and offered a shoulder to cry on in times of distress! All they are trying to do is make it in this crazy, disorientating jumbled up mess we call life!
And yes there will also be someone somewhere trying to abuse the system! But it’s not just ‘immigrants’ who do that!

For me immigration has made my world a more beautiful place! I love living in a multi cultured and multi coloured world! On Sunday night I went to watch the France vs Ireland game with some of my new French friends in a bar where I was so surrounded by French people, I could have been in Paris! The night before I watched the Switzerland game with two friends I’ve met; one from Switzerland, one from Belgium! I feel blessed to be living in a place where so many nationalities live side by side! It’s one of the best ways I can think of to learn about other people and learning is the best way to help us grow!

Now I know people will disagree with some of my opinions! I genuinely don’t mind! I actually think it’s a great thing that we all have different thoughts… I’ve never fancied the idea of living amongst robots! But I hope that in the days and weeks and months to come, In a time of ever growing uncertainty, that maybe people will see things from someone else’s point of view, that people will listen to another and take on each other’s thoughts with love and tolerance! I didn’t agree with all of my friends in the recent referendum but they’re still my friends and I respect their opinions! Because we’re all different! But at the end of the day we’re also all people!

 

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