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
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.
This is a true story that happened to me some years ago. 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. The room 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. I had a job – but I was always curious as to what career consulting firms had to offer and that’s why I gamely turned up.
“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 contractual work,” I reply.
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?”
This is a true story that happened some years ago. 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 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?”
This is a true story that happened a few years ago. At times, it really is worth wondering whether career consulting firms really do genuinely aim to help their clients who are seeking work to land a job or just swindle away their money. All names have been changed.
She steps into the lift at 11.50am on a cloudy January summer’s day. It whooshes upwards just seconds after she presses the button for the floor where the career consulting firm is located in the sky-high Melbourne CBD office building.
Just a few days ago, she answered her ringing handphone to a chirpy career consultant called Mindy who probably wrangled her number from one of the career mailing lists she signed up for. Over the phone, Mindy offered to help her gain employment in the field of HR.
Some people employ the services career consulting firms in hope of securing a job. But there really is no guarantee they will land a job. Photo by Mabel Kwong.
The girl had no interest in buying the services of this firm. But she was curious as to what they actually offered, and decided to play along with it.
Today, many people who are born and bred in developing nations often choose to leave their country and homeland at some point in their lives and move to the Western world. To escape on-going violence in the homeland. To find a job or get an education. Or to seek greener pastures and find a pot of goal at the end of the rainbow in a modernised city.
But is life really more cushy in the new land than back home for these newly arrived migrants / third culture kids / international students / refugees who with limited resources on their backs? Even in the long run?
Many people in developing countries live in sub-par housing, unlike those in Western cities. Rainy KL, Malaysia. Photo by Mabel Kwong.
Migrants in Western countries are able to live with modern, solid roofs over their heads.