BORN in the Northern Territory, Trinity Theological College student Fa Ngaluafe speaks rather eloquently about belonging and the challenges that come with belonging to two different cultures.
“Belonging is a worldwide human desire that we all seek,” she said.
“It is like a missing piece within our hearts and lives which we continuously search for.
“I have come to a peaceful conclusion within myself that both my cultures, Australian and Tongan, make up who I am.
“To neglect one is to neglect an important part of who I am.”
Ms Ngaluafe remembers the times in her life when she just wanted to fit in and be a typical white Australian girl.
However, this ideal had effects on her self esteem and body image.
“I used to see it as a curse, now I see it as a blessing to be able to have two cultures,” she said.
“Being a second generation young adult is difficult because you are brought up as your ethnic culture and then you are surrounded and live in the dominant culture.
“I found it really difficult to find a place to belong.
“I found myself wanting to fit in more with my Tongan culture, but there were areas of my Aussie culture that I liked and I wanted to sort of mesh them both together.”
Ms Ngaluafe stressed that everyone is on a search to belong.
“We all want to belong to something, to be part of something amazing, something spectacular and we may find that in our culture, in our family, friends or job.
“I don’t believe we appreciate those treasures fully until we find belonging in the family of Christ,” she said.
Rev David Won Kim agrees with Ms Ngaluafe regarding the struggle to belong, especially when it comes to cultural identity.
Born in South Korea, the minister at Crossway Uniting Church in Holland Park, Brisbane, said his Asian heritage had been westernised and he is now a fusion of the two cultures.
Mr Won Kim favours the term “belongingness” which he said is an act that requires constant effort.
“Belonging to different cultures is about finding your other self.
“If I had lived in Korea all my life I wouldn’t have been able to see that I have another type of personality.
“It’s been a blessing that I came to Australia to be able to find myself, find my other self,” he said.
“The Uniting Church in Australia has helped me to understand the First People and the Second People.
“God sent the Aboriginal and Indigenous people to look after this land.
“The First People welcomed the Second People.
“That’s the focus of God as well.
I think of Australia like a big family reunion.”
Mr Won Kim stressed the importance of not being judgemental and recognising that every culture is different.
“God loves us the way we are.
It doesn’t matter how we look.
“If we have that notion, and we practise that notion, we will have a much better church, a much better country and, most importantly, a much better world.”
Photo : Fa Ngaluafe. Photo by Phil Johnson