Saturday, October 15, 2011
english speaking migrants: is privilege and pain a fresh expression
I am an English-speaking migrant. Let’s tease out those words.
Migrant means I am new, shallow-rooted. I miss home and family and feel dislocated. As I encounter other English-speaking migrants from US, England, I realise I’m not alone in these feelings. Such encounters are really helpful, humanising experiences that are an important part of settling.
Yet as migrant I also feel hopeful and optimistic. I come with a purpose. I arrive in a new place and realise I have much to learn, about history and culture. Indeed, I have some responsibility to learn and am keen to learn.
English-speaking means I have some advantages, some privilege, in terms of communication and language-learning. It also means potential, because time and again I realise how little I know and how much I have to learn about history and culture to glean.
So when you put the words English-speaking and migrants together, you realise some things. You realise that there is a need to care for English-speaking migrants. There is also an opportunity to educate English-speaking migrants, to welcome to country, to explore with them sacred sites, to help them love the lands and layers of this country. There is also the need for challenge, to ask those with privilege to consider how they will partner with those less privileged, how they will live in order to not repeat colonising patterns, how they could use this transplanting experience as a time for growth and change. Change is often when people consider and re-consider their identity, wellbeing and spiritual path.
So what about a fresh expression for english-speaking migrants? This would have a pastoral dimension, as it attends to the pain of being transplanted, offers appropriate grief models. This would have a discipling dimension, as it invites people to reflect on themes of journey and pilgrimage can be times for growth. This would have a mission dimension, as it tells the story of indigenous people’s, as it explores how to live in a country with scarcity of water, how to welcome those who are newer than you, how to partner with those who have less privilge, less English (ie English-learning), than you?
Research questions: How many English-speaking migrants are arriving in Adelaide? (updated: 10 323 English-speaking migrants since 2006) What are their patterns of settling? What are their needs? How to connect with these people? What about migrants from other States to Adelaide, who talk of finding it hard to connect with local Adelaidians?
Theological questions: Is it potentially exclusivist (racist even) to gather a certain type of people? How could this body express partnership with the broader church? Would already residents in Australia want to be part of this type of community?
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