Four Generations in Australia – my experience as an Australian-born Chinese

Recently, I started an internship at MultiConnexions and I am learning many insights and skills in public relations and multicultural marketing. I am interested in the diverse range of nationalities and cultures, because of my own experiences with my family background and culture.

This helps me understand the importance culture has in everyone’s lives.

A few years ago, my family became part of the ‘four generations’ category. Most of my family have emigrated from China to Australia. The first generations include my grandparents, who spent most of their life in China and moved to Australia. The second generations include my parents, uncles and aunties, many of which have moved from China to Australia for work.

My brother, cousins and I are the third generation and also known as the “ABC” (Australian born Chinese). We grew up learning both Australian and Chinese lifestyles, cultures and languages.

We now have a fourth generation in my family as my cousin has two sons. My dad’s side of the family is from Hong Kong and my mum’s side of the family is from Guangdong (south-east China).

Most of my family are bilingual and speak Cantonese and English at home. We had to learn both languages because my grandparents don’t know how to speak English – and I am grateful for that today.

Here are the top 3 things that I enjoy most from being in a large and close ethnic family

  • Everyone takes care of each other.

My family are always in contact with each other and regularly checking up on each other. It is common in Chinese society for grandparents to take care of the child while the parents are at work. Youths and adults have the responsibility take care of their grandparents as they get older.

  • We learn from each other.

My family are all skilled in different industries and it is helpful to ask other family members for help specialising in a particular skill. Many people would think that the children would learn most of their skills and life advice from parents and grandparents. However, this statement is not always true. My brother, cousins and I have taught our parents and grandparents on using technology including computers, tablets and smart-phones.

My family has also learnt languages from each other. Family members who were raised in Australia would teach English to those raised in China. Family members raised in China would teach Cantonese and Mandarin to those raised in Australia. I think that it has been helpful and useful to learn different languages from each other, as it is an important aspect of my life.

  • We pass on our traditions.

Chinese people have a strong sense of connection with their traditions and culture. My family enjoys gathering and celebrating traditional festivities. Some Chinese celebrations are Lunar New Year and the Moon Festival.

Whenever there is a family celebration or an event, we plan the dates and make sure that everyone is available via WhatsApp and WeChat. We have a large family dinner and gathering at one of our homes and bring along a plate of food to share with each other or either book double digits for seats at a Chinese restaurant.

In every family gathering, there must be one staple food, rice. According to the older generations in my family, it is not considered a fulfilling dinner if there is no rice.

On Chinese New Year, children receive red packets with money inside, which are usually given by adults.

During the Chinese Moon Festival, we give moon cakes to each other as gifts. I enjoy celebrating and participating in these traditional Chinese celebrations with my family.

To sum up

I am proud of being an “ABC” because of my experiences the richness in Australian and Chinese lifestyles and culture. My experiences of living with a large ethnic family have helped me learnt more about my Chinese background, various skills and languages and the generational differences in lifestyles.

This blog was written by Christina Choi, PR Intern at MultiConnexions

Pictured Below:  饮水思源 or ‘Yǐn shuǐ sī yuán’ is a popular Chinese proverb. It literally translates to ‘when you drink water, you think about its origin’. The meaning is ‘we don’t forget where we came from’.

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