The truth is that we are defined by our environment. Human beings are herd animals and we are shaped by the communities in which we live. This is why adult migrants, often, struggle to fit into their new surroundings, whilst their children assimilate and integrate into their new homelands with ease. Young people want to fit in and do not carry the identity baggage from their past. Immigrant children adapting to life in Australia can be seen in sporting teams and at schools everywhere. Life is about learning the customs and behaviours of your community and country. For kids this is a piece of cake, even for kids who do not usually eat cake at home.
The Parents Miss the Old World Much More
In fact, much of the friction in migrant families is due to the parents establishing islands or ghettoes of Little Italy, Chinatown, or wherever they are from. These frozen slices of life from the homeland become barriers for the children of immigrants fitting in. Old customs become weights hanging around the necks of these migrant kids. The parents miss their old worlds much more than their children who are moving on, into the here and now. Of course, South African kids can access confectionary from back home via expat stores, but I bet it is the big kids (Mum and Dad) who miss the old flavours most.
Let the Young Ones Embrace the New
It can be a tough balancing act for migrants, not to get in the way of their children’s success in making a new life and not completely forgetting their roots. Immigrant children adapting to life in Australia do it with good grace, especially if their parents can give them the space to be whole in their new identity and not split. Life is governed by cycles and we naturally turn to the pages of our family’s past when we get a good bit older. Let the young ones embrace the new whilst they are young.
Biltong is now searched 6000 times per month in Australia on Google and this tells us a few things. South African expats in Australia have established some flourishing food businesses. Perhaps, they are, also, passing on the biltong banner to their progeny in terms of tastes and trends. Their homes may, indeed, be nests of diverse interests and creativity in their new homeland. Whether it be China, Korea, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, India or somewhere else, the multicultural mix is a great thing in Australia and long may it live.