This article is part of a series known as #30DaysOfThanks

multicultural family

As they grow up there is often little that surprises children. They are quick to believe babies are delivered from the stork onto your doorstep and that a fat man in a red suit comes down the chimney to deliver presents. Their willingness to be open to anything is so refreshing and innocent, but it is often unfortunately a short lived window. As they get older, society teaches them what to think and how to act and before you know it these developing opinions and judgements slam this childhood window shut. Their bright eyes are clouded over by the conditioning that anything different to what we should believe in is something to be feared.

As a child, I knew that my family was different from the families of my friends. Half of my family looked different to the rest and some members lived very, very far away; somewhere you had to catch a plane to get to. My parents talked about things other parents didn’t and we watched sports and televisions shows others had never heard of. But as a five year old none of this surprised me and I continued to love my family the same and if anything it led me to be grateful for it every single day following that. 

My story is a simple one. Dad leaves home at a young age and moves overseas. Dad meets Mum and they fall in love. Mum moves with Dad back to Australia. Mum and Dad have two daughters, neither of whom look alike and are never suspected to be siblings. Family spends the better part of 15 years living in two countries and several cities, moving between countless schools and making dozens of friendships along the way. 

Even 15 years later, there are still signs the world is often not used to my multicultural family. Friends I have known for years still mention that my mother looks nothing like me, and with my fair complexion it is hard to see I’m from Maori descent (the indigenous people of New Zealand). I often get weird looks when I tell them my mother has never voted in an Australian political election because she isn’t a citizen and therefore not legally allowed. I’ve never watched many of the childhood TV shows my friends grew up with but am the only one who can count to 10 in four different languages. They don’t believe me when I say I saw one set of my grandparents only three times in 10 years and that I’d been on eight plane rides by the time I was four.  

Despite all of this, I am thankful for my multicultural family every day. I’m so lucky to have been able to experience life in another country, immersed in another culture. I spent many happy years learning about Maori traditions, food and the language while seeing the incredible sites New Zealand has to offer. I am more comfortable in airports than some people are in their living rooms and supervised my sister on our first solo flight to Australia at the age of 11. Having had to make new friends every couple of years, I’m not shy and am confident in networking situations where I don’t know anyone. Similarly, I’m thankful to now have a huge network of friends who live on all corners of the world. I get a lot of mail complete with all kinds of international postage stamps!

My parents are the strongest encourages of my love of travel, most likely born from my experiences growing up in a multicultural family. I hold no fears about cultures different to my own and have a hungry sense of curiosity to explore the differences between my culture and theirs. 

So now even as a 25-year old there is little that surprises me. I’ve learnt to roll with the punches and welcome the new and different. I judge people less because of what they look like or where they are from. It doesn’t mean that I like everyone but I’ve learnt to look deeper rather than take things at face value.

To this day my family remains defensive of our multiculturalism and proud of any chance we have to celebrate it. It has been one of the most important influences in my life and I sincerely hope everyone has the chance to experience such benefits.

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