What has your relationship with your Asian Australian identity been like, and how has it evolved?
Growing up in Perth, I experienced racism as a 6 year old on my first day at school. At lunch time, I watched a group of year 6 boys play basketball and I wanted to join in. As soon as the ball rolled out of the basketball court, I ran after it and threw it back to them, hoping they would say thank you and ask me if I wanted to play. But instead they shouted, “Hands off our ball you ugly Jap!” For a period after, I didn’t want to go back to school. At the time, my mother and teacher encouraged me to go back - saying that I had to find something I loved doing and to do it well to gain the respect of others.
After that, I put effort into my writing and sport. I wrote funny stories and presented them to my teacher and classmates. I was good at athletics so I won multiple short distance running races and long jump. By the end of primary school, I was elected prefect and House Captain. I was the only Asian girl at school, and my method of coping with that was by gaining the respect of others in my school through achievements and recognition. I didn’t have any Asian friends growing up in Perth. I only had more Asian friends when I moved to Sydney.
What is a significant cultural memory of yours?
Being a part of Stories East & West, a play at Belvoir St Upstairs Theatre, directed by William Yang and Annette Shun Wah was a significant memory since it was the first time I really embraced my Asian heritage. Stories East & West, brought together six Asian Australians including me, to share our lives, family history and experiences to the audience. We talked over a microphone beside projections of personal photographs.
What is your favourite food from your culture?
I love fried Bee Hoon, Ice Katchang, fried icecream ball and durian.
Who is an Asian Australian that inspires you, and why?
One of my favourite Asian Australians is Alice Pung. She’s so kind, supportive and highly intelligent. She is ego-less, which is very uncommon in the arts and entertainment industry. She doesn’t even feel the need to go on social media to promote her work or herself.
When I go to Melbourne, she’s one of the first people I like to hang out with. I love spending a day with her and her three kids. We’ll play, eat ice cream and have long chats. I love spending time with her and her family.