What Is “Asian”? How Do We Define “Asian”?

Asian. It is a word we see and hear a lot in Australia when someone refers to a person with black hair, small eyes and yellow skin and their Chinese/Malay/Indian/Indonesian etc. heritage.

Asian. It is also a word that has segregational connotations.

A word that means different things to different people as well.

The word "Asian" has positive and negative connotations. Photo: Mabel Kwong

The word “Asian” has positive and negative connotations. Photo: Mabel Kwong

When I was studying in Malaysia and Singapore, very rarely did I hear anyone calling one another “Asian”. The exception was of course in newspaper stories discussing regional relations, stories explaining how countries in the “Asian region” could benefit from international trade. My classmates and I referred to one another as “Chinese”, “Malay”, “Indian”, “Eurasian” etc.. “Asian” was pretty much a foreign term to us.

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To Trust Or Not To Trust Career Consulting Firms?

This is a true story that happened to me a few weeks back. All names have been changed.

“Have a seat,” Frank says.

I take a seat in the small room just about cozy enough for a large table, two chairs and two people. No, this isn’t a room in the building of the career consulting firm I am paying a visit to after they rung me last week. It is one of the probably thousands of meeting rooms in a sky-high office tower in Melbourne’s CBD. And career consultant Frank had rented/booked it out for our appointment.

“Tell me about yourself,” Frank says, leaning forwards in his chair and fiddling with the laptop on the table between us.

“I’m currently working here and there. I’m looking for something full or part time,” I reply.

Finding a job is a tedious process. Sometimes, career firms may not be completely upfront with their clients. Photo: Mabel Kwong

Finding a job is a tedious process. Sometimes, career firms may not be completely upfront with their clients. Photo: Mabel Kwong

“Have you had interviews? You’re applying for jobs through recruitment firms?”

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Career Consulting Firms: A Reason Why Asians Can’t Get Jobs

This is a true story that happened last week. I recounted the conversation as much as I could remember word for word. The name of the consultant has been changed.

I lean back in my chair, delighted at having just finished writing my latest blog post in my favourite corner of my room. I stare outside my bedroom window to my left. It is a sunny mid-autumn day in Melbourne, the sky a crystal clear blue and the leaves on the trees outside still bright green. A happy, uplifting sight.

Bzzz bzzz. My handphone rings, vibrates and jerks about on the table, the sharp ringtone shattering the tranquility of this relaxing afternoon at home.

I pick it up. “Hello?”

“Hi, is this Madel?” a male voice on the other end asks.

“Do you mean May-bel?” I pronounce slowly. People always fail to pronounce my name correctly.

“Yes, Mabel. Hi Mabel. This is Jason calling from XYZ Careers. Have you heard about us before?”

“No, I haven’t.”

Happy student/graduate. But most of the time job-seeking is a laborious, demoralising process. Photo: Mabel KwongHappy student/graduate. But most of the time job-seeking is a laborious, demoralising process. Photo: Mabel Kwong

“We are a consulting firm located on Collins Street in the CBD, near the Parliament Station end. We specialise in assisting graduates in gaining employment in Australia,” Jason explains. “Are you currently working?”

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