Adjusting to a New Challenges

Imagine -Being fully in charge of your life’s journey and directing its course; -The belief that life did not have to be this way and giving yourself the right or permission to change what you do not like; -Transforming the way you respond to each new experience – positive and negative. If you believe that you are capable of transition, then you will achieve it.

Thank chairperson Jeff, honorable judges, fellow toastmaster, ladies and gentlement, very warm welcome to you. It was said many times that we are a nation of migrants. Well, my wife, Bee, our 3 son’s and I, are a part of this category.

When l first arrived in New Zealand in 1992, the government under former Prime Minister Helen Clarks, asked “New Migrant,” to assimilate with New Zealanders and integrate into the New Zealanders way of life - and that was exactly what we set out to do. This is where l describes my experience immigrating to New Zealand from Malaysia. My first experience I had when I first come to NZ, had the shock of my life at a public bath. As you might know, people bathe in a open shower area (imagine - no door or without any clothing or bathing suit on). At the end of my bath, I was greeted by an elderly lady entering the men's dressing room looking for her grandson. Since you would never encounter such a situation in my Asean culture, the discrepancy between my culture and my experience in NZ conflicted with my expectations, and thus, I felt very out of place. From my point of view/perspective, she shouldn't have been there, and at the least, she could have waited until I was completely dressed. We are all, from time to time, faced with challenges, struggles and adversity in our life – especially if we are faced with a move across the ocean or into a new and foreign environment. Yet our reactions to each bump in the road govern whether the bump sets us momentarily off course or throws us completely off the road. For many of us, our reactions are steeped in past issues: feelings of anger, helplessness, or overwhelm. Whenever those feelings, it is difficult for us to respond clearly and openly to a current issue. This was a slow learning process for my family as well.

On one occasion, while driving for grocery shopping. A question was post by one of my son’s as to why often the driver is the female instead of the male which does not make sense from Asian cultures. “Women are actually BETTER drivers here because they tend to be not as reckless as males who like to speed and drive like jerks to show their masculinity”, I say. That is why you see woman are encourage to join space shuttle as astronauts. So that when the crew lost in space, the crew can ask the woman for direction. I was not alone in this predicament, many migrant who come to the NZ experience freedoms they have never enjoyed in their country: freedom from family, freedom from cultural norms they didn't like, freedom from the pressures of working. However, too much freedom and unstructured life can lead to other problems. Kids sometimes skip classes, stay out late, and engage in activities that their families and cultures might not approve of.

On another occasions, l heard a story from a middle –age migrant couple stopped by a police. l’ll need to see your driver’s licence’ say the policemen. “You were speeding” but “l was well under the speed limit” says the man. “Sir, you were doing 65 kilometres an hour in a 50 kilometres zone (Residence area)”. “l was not speeding “ insists the man. “Your radar gun must be broken”. At this point, his visiting wife lean over ‘lt ‘s no use arguing with him, office” she say. “He always get this stubborn when he’s been drinking”.

Probably, the best thing to do is to be open to differences and flexible to change. Differences are not good or bad, but just different, and accepting the fact that people do things differently is the first step to understanding new culture. Be willing to try new things and avoid criticizing others. By doing this, you'll be able to adjust to any new environment.

Quote: The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his altitude (by American psychology Willian James)

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