There are more than two sides to the story. This is my side...
I had prepared many things to share on Australia Day but something stopped me from sharing until I figured out I was not able to celebrate when others were in mourning...
In recent years there have been many debates on whether Australia Day should actually be celebrated on 26 January. So I share this story in hope that next year we can all celebrate together with No divide #changethedate
For the first people of the land, this day is a day tinted with sadness. It is the day, the First Nation lost their land, their kids got stolen #thestolengeneration and many families were killed and traumatized.
However, Australia Day for many new migrants to Australia is the day that many take the oath of faith to become Australian citizens.
Politics aside, Australia Day celebrates everything Australian. It is a day known for family gatherings at parks as it falls during The Australian summer. It was always one of my favorite national celebrations as it is an opportunity to remember what being Australian means to me and my family.
I was the last one in my family to receive my Australian citizenship. I had had two kids who were born Australian before I received my citizenship through a ceremony held in May 2009 in Canberra. I remember that day clearly I had a varicose vein operation in my left leg a few weeks earlier and my leg was still wrapped in pressure stockings after. I was mobile but limping and that didn’t stop me from attending a day I cherish til today.
Becoming Australian for me has meant I have the rights of every other Australian which is to vote and to be heard. Becoming Australian has also meant that I now belong to a country I had been sharing my skills and expertise in for years. It has also meant I am protected by the law and especially family and state law. For years I lived in worry and fear that if anything happened between me and my husband whilst I was still not Australian I would be kicked out of the country and not see my kids again. I lived in fear for some time even though I had obtained permanent residence through my stay. It still didn’t feel enough to protect me and my children for the dramatic scenario I had been playing in my head.
When I think of why I was feeling fearful it was because I felt there was an imbalance in my relationship with my husband. He was an Australian citizen when I met him and I had left everything and everyone I knew behind to move to the other side of the world to be with him. For a long time I felt I was not enough because I was not granted my rights after living and working in the country for 5 years. I had less work opportunities than him and breaking in to the Australian workforce took much longer than I expected which created an inner sense of not being enough and not belonging.
At the becoming Australian ceremony in May 2009. I sat in the crowd my husband by my side listening to every word the migration department chief officer said. I listened as he said ‘becoming Australian doesn’t mean you forget where you came from. Becoming Australian means you bring all of who you are to the table, your culture, your heritage and the flavours of your country of origin.’
I sighed a big sigh of relief because there it was confirmation that the step to becoming Australian meant keeping and embracing everything that is Egyptian about me. This was a big part of my identity that I was very fearful of losing
As shared on 27 January 2021 for Australian Migrant Stories
by Marwa Rida
LifeStyle Design Consultant
Draft Chapter ~ Becoming Australian