By Lisa Zhou
As a multicultural country, there are more than 180 thousand people who have migrated to Australia from overseas. Each migrant has his or her own story, but they will experience the same four stages of emotional changes that occur once a decision has been made to migrate.
The first of these is the Honeymoon stage where the entire experience of a newcountry is completely exhilarating，
The second stage is the Frustration stage where day to day living can be difficult due to the differences in how processes may be carried out，
The third stage is the Adjustment stage where daily life is familiar,
In this stage there may be humour instilled in day to day life which makes room for the Acceptance stage, the final of the four stages on living in a new country.
This four stage system was devised by anthropologist, Kalervo Oberg in 1957. Despite this having been created over sixty years ago, the stages are still relevant to individuals today migrating or moving to new countries.
I read the four stage system from the migrant stories’ video shot by the director of Medea Films, Stella Grammenos-Dimadis, who completed her Masters in Film in 2012. Her love of art, vision and story telling has allowed her to pursue her love of film in all its variations. Stella created a series of migrant stories’ videos to explore what the firstyears looks like for migrants coming to Australia.
Before Stella undertook film making she was a painter. So what inspired her to study film and create a series of migrant stories? Please read the interview below↓↓↓
Lisa: You completed your Master in film in 2012, so what inspired you to study film?
Stella: My first degree was in Art History, a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and English at La Trobe University. Then got another degree in fine art, a Bachelor, so I became a painter. And then I did a degree in teaching and qualified as a qualified teacher. But from doing all of that and practicing art, I found that it wasn’t enough for me to be able to creatively show the thoughts and the feelings that I had inside of me about all sorts of issues. Even though I still paint, I thought that it would be more interesting to be able to create a visual medium and talk about what I feel through film. And that’s why I then went and did a Masters in film.
Lisa: What inspired you to create a series of migrant stories?
Stella: A lot of the migrant story series came about because I myself was a migrant. I saw the struggles that my parents had in their very first years in Australia. But for them it continued throughout their life because they found it very difficult to learn English. And so they found it difficult to be able to then integrate. And I think that there was a lot of loneliness as well, so I wanted to create a series to explore what those first couple of years looks like for migrants in Australia. I arrived in Australia when I was nine months old, I wasn’t quite Australian because I wasn’t born here, but very much also a part of the great culture growing up. So for me it was difficult to integrate because I didn’t know English until when I went to school at five years old.
Lisa: So you speak Greek in your family.
Stella: Correct. And to this day I will speak Greek with my own mum and dad, not English. And we’re talking about over 45 years now.
Lisa: For those migrants’ stories. What would you love to show the audience?
Stella: In every story that I hear, I find something very relevant to our overall society. And then what I do is, I want to explore that further and base it with any scientific evidence or any research that’s happened in a particular area.So I’m always interested to know how do migrants feel? Sociologically, what actually happens and psychologically and mentally to a migrant when they come to Australia? Or there might be some historical points that people have brought up in the interviews that I then do more research on and explore.
Livingin a new country is a huge change for any migrant, the challenges they meetmight be the new language, different cultures, different food and unemployment……
Even for the second generation, the ones who still connect with their heritage but have created a whole life for themselves, confident in knowing that Australiais their home-their only home. As Stella wrote in her blog, “I don’t remember my first year in Australia as I was too little, but I do have a feeling from that time, maybe it is because of the stories that have been passed down from my family, or the locked memories stagnant in my subconscious but I do know there was a sentiment of excitement, a sense of closeness, support, togetherness.There was a notion of happiness, and even though it was hard, there was definitely a sense of accomplishment. These were the early years, and life moves on and changes.”
Fortunately,miracles can happen if one works hard enough, like Ken Ong once said, “From an overseas student to the candidate of lord mayor in Melbourne city, nothing is impossible.”
There are always ways to achieve your dream if you really mean it.
“I grew up in an immigrant neighborhood. We just knew the rule was you’re going to have to work twice as hard.” Lin-Manuel Miranda