Paula and her son Joshua (12) discuss the colour of belonging, immigration and learning a new language

Paula: Belonging is every experience you have, like every morning in your life you have some experience and putting everything together it belongs to you and you can share it as well. When you go somewhere you always learn something new and you will always have some special moments. Experiences can be good or not really good but they belong to you.

Joshua: Well I remember actually getting on one of the roller-coasters. It kind of made me feel scared at first. But after going twice I started getting the hang of it and then every single time I came back there I didn’t get scared anymore. But the first time I didn’t really know what to do.

What do you think is the colour of belonging?

Joshua: I think it’s maybe pink or purple because that represents something joyful, or even yellowish-greenish. Actually I have no idea. It’s like some kind of rainbow colour because it’s more like something that you will never forget in your life, or something that is very precious to you. At least that’s what I think.

Paula: Nearly nine years ago, I came to Australia. That’s a huge thing. My husband is Australian and he was living in Brazil at the time that we met. We got married and we started having our babies. We have three children. Joshua is the youngest. Then my husband said he wanted to go back to Australia. One day probably it would happen. He’s not a Brazilian man, so I knew it was possible.

What I love the most in Australia is that we find people from everywhere in the world and it brings such a treasure to our lives. To know other people’s stories, to learn about places I didn’t even know existed.

Even though there are lots of challenges and the challenges are not easy — they are huge — it’s amazing. We learn how to live another way of life. We learn how to give more because I think when we live in another country we also have this responsibility to give what we have as a foreigner, as an immigrant. When you are living in your own country you are sharing what everybody knows, but when you come to another country, you share your own culture, your own person, your own experiences. These are gifts you can give to other people.

To learn another language, Oh My God! it’s a big challenge. The first feeling you have is: Wow I can’t express myself and this is terrible because you can not make people understand what you’re trying to say. And you are there stuck. And people are talking around you. I wish I could say something but I don’t know how to say something. So this belongs to me this experience. And even this experience, it is amazing.

The Pop-Up Story Catcher: This story was caught at Brisbane’s State Library Queensland Big Day of Belonging 18 June 2016. You can also read it on the SLQ Blog