Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Goodbye Post

In my travels around the web - I was working really hard today, honest - I found this site.

The Migrant Project seems like a very interesting one. This is a little something from their manifesto:

The Migrant Project is a unique, interdisciplinary arts project, developed by a collective of Australian artists from a variety of cultural and artistic backgrounds, discovering and reassembling the untold stories of Australia’s past and present.
I am reminded of a day I spent at the National Archives in Canberra. I had planned myself a little 'Nationals' tour (only one day free in Canberra): the National Archives (half an hour), the National Library (1 & 1/2 hours), the National Art Gallery (2 hours), lunch (1 hour), the War Museum (1 hour), plane home. It did not quite work out like that because the Archives had an exhibition of the lives of people who first arrived in Australia as emigrants and who lived initially in a migrant community at Bonegilla. It was a fascinating exhibition and I spent about 3 hours there.

Each time I see things like the Bonegilla Exhibition and the Migrant Project, one half of me is inspired, and the other half exhausted. My desire to document my family story and, indeed, to find out more about my family story is re-invigorated. On the other hand, the time evidently put into these projects and the sheer talent that surpasses my own wears me down.

The Migrant Project poses this very interesting question:
In what ways do we forge a hybrid sense of self between our different identities, our different senses of home and belonging and the many identities we possess, the communities we straddle?

This blog started out telling snippets of my family story. It's morphed into all kinds of things - a little about books, a little about law, a little about race/ism, a little (probably more than I intended) about me.

In many ways, I have found it impossible to separate my Viet refugee past from my current life.

The nature of blogging itself does not assist me to keep separate stories of my past, from stories of my present. I began to worry, as I realised that people were actually reading my blog, of revealing too much about people who had not agreed to have anything at all revealed about them, to an unknown audience. It began to be safer to tell stories of my present, in which only (or predominantly) I - who had explicitly agreed to having things revealed about me and who was (mostly) in control of the revelations - figured.

I am a hybrid - not only of my Viet-ness and my Australian-ness, but also of the different identities of Oanh the daughter, sibling, aunt, partner, lawyer, reader, feminist, etc. I live a digital, and a non-digital, life. You, too, are a hybrid.

I have documented, and will probably continue to document, the transgressions between the me who aligns with my family and cultural expectations of me, and the me whom I think of as more truly myself. It is the cultural straddling I (and others) do, and suspect will always do, that intrigues me. I do it mostly unthinkingly. Have I forged a hybrid sense of self, or has it just arisen?

I am moving to the UK - a kind of confused reverse Australian migration. I will soon be struggling for a sense of home, and definitely for a sense of belonging. That won't be anything I have not done in the past, but it will be interesting to do, equipped as I am now, with the verbiage of theory. I will soon have no family and very few friend reference points for my identity. I will be behaving amongst people who will have no pre-conceptions about how to expect me to behave in any given situation (except my partner, of course, who has years of pre-conceptions, now). It is why travelling is so exciting to people, I think, this opportunity to re-create.

For my parents, my moving is not quite travelling. I wonder if they view this move as akin to their migration to Australia. It is not, of course, as I reassure them of at least 12-monthly visits home. That in itself, and the immediacy and simplicity of communication unknown when they left Viet Nam (and complicated by other factors too), makes what I am doing now, conceptually very different to what they were doing then.

This is my goodbye post. Not because I am leaving blogging forever, but, because, circumstances being as they currently are, I will need to have a blog hiatus of at least two months, maybe more. Moving across the world is time-consuming. I will probably still be reading and commenting but suspect that, too, will be sporadic. A break will be a good opportunity to think about the direction and purpose of this blog, and to return, hopefully, with a clearer idea of what I want from my blogging or an epiphany that such clarity is not possible, nor even desirable, for me.



laziicat said...

hope the move and transition is smooth and seamless...

its a big step....

Jaye said...

What you wrote about hybrids hits very close to home and is very touching.

Take care during your hiatus and good luck with your move. That's quite a distance to cross!

honglien123 said...

I am a hybrid, I always knew it and yet never had the words to describe that feeling as articulately as you have here. In fact, all of your posts have been incredibly articulate and thoughtful and I will miss them during this hiatus. What a huge step you are taking. Good luck to you and your partner.

Chao chi Oanh, or rather, tam biet!

Galaxy said...

Oh, I'm sad you're leaving Brisbane, which is completely ridiculous, because I've never met you, but I guess I always thought I would, eventually.

Anyway, good luck with the move, and I look forward to your return to blogging in a few months.

Tseen said...

Good luck with the travels and re-orientation in the UK, Oanh! Will miss you in the blogworld but hopefully will see you pop up again sometime (old bloggers never die... ;) ). Have really enjoyed reading your posts.

n.t said...


at least i've your email addy.

things changed on my end but i promise you your reply's coming.

i once looked at my half-vietnamese and half australian friend and thought, she's the visual representation of how i feel. but that's all been thrown again for me lately. but you're right with the idea of being a hybrid.

there is no such thing as 'authentic' where we are.

sume said...

I'll miss you while you're gone. Wishing you a safe, smooth transition from Oz to UK.

Will email you soon!

Legal Eagle said...

Good luck in the UK. Hope that it goes well. And hope to see you in the blogosphere some time.

Ji In said...

Oh! I guess I missed your goodbye post on my feed subscriptions! I hope you return with a newly found fervor for blogging, and that you are finding your feet as you step forth onto new ground. Good luck!

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