Ting Zhang

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I was born in Communist China in the late 1980's. I grew up in a family where both of my parent's childhood was filled with poverty, famine and the Cultural Revolution. My parents worked very hard to provide me with a life of comfort and full access to education and opportunities. I left China to Australia in 2009 to pursue university studies.

My first four years in Australia were full of struggles - culturally, linguistically, academically and emotionally. I experienced cultural shock, home sickness, casual racism on the streets, and sexism during my practicum. I struggled a great deal for my university studies. I grew up in a godless Communist country with a rigid, standardised test-based education system where musical and artistic interests, active debate, innovative and critical thinking were not encouraged. My ability of writing logical and augmentative essays were therefore ill-equipped, my critical thinking faculty was deactivated, and my English was weak. Challenges were pressing and fear was present. But there's no better teacher than challenge and fear. Fear generated a huge energy in me and I started to read English fictions and non-fictions, engage in conversations with people from all walks of life, and started to ask ‘why’ and ‘how’ more frequently. 

"Challenges were pressing and fear was present.  But there's no better teacher than challenge and fear."

Before migrating to Australia, I never pondered about the big questions in life: “Why I am here, what is love, what is freedom, what does success mean to me, and how can I live a flourishing and meaningful life”. Life in Australia, the people I met, books I read, and studies I did freed me from my old mentality. It has led me to an exciting world of ideas, changes, possibilities, meaningful relationships and new dreams and aspirations. Last year, I started working closely with refugees and asylum seekers from Africa, South-East Asia and the Middle East. From them, I learnt humility, humanity, optimism, warmth, respect and the power of storytelling. Their journeys can teach us so much about the injustice and inequality of life itself.

"I say it proudly that I am a migrant of Australia"

I am honoured and humbled to be part of Pocket Stories and I say it proudly that I am a migrant of Australia. There are diverse stories behind every migrant. We are not merely labels. We are real human beings with feelings, emotions, aspirations, a yearning for belonging, and a willingness to contribute to our multicultural society. We must unite as one to challenge the dehumanising and demeaning stereotypes and we must unite as one to challenge the prejudices that is so toxic and damaging to us and to our multicultural society. I am excited to witness Pocket Stories to grow into a beautiful, emotional, meaningful, inspirational and authentic library of true human essence.

By Ting Zhang from China in Australia, our new Pocket Stories team member.


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