Friday, December 23, 2011

Variety of Culture

     Before I arrived in Belgium I couldn't call myself a worldly person. I knew some facts and events about other countries from watching T.V. or listening to the radio in the U.S.A. but I find the information was not the same as experiencing real people and real culture. For example, I have met numerous australian exchange students and they have opened my eyes to their history and lifestyle. Many Australians are social, talkative, and kind. My curiosity took a better hold of me and I researched the people of Australia. Their history is unique and I want to share with you what I discovered.
     Originally, the Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islander people inhabited Australia. It's estimated that these civilians migrated from Africa and surrounding landmasses. Willem Janszoon was the first recorded european to arrive in Australia around 1571 but it was not until 1770 that Captain James Cook claimed the biggest island in the world for his country. The english sent many convicts and British civilians over to Australia on January 26, 1788; this day later became what is known as "Australian Day." Unfortunately, many Aboriginal Australians died in cause from the diseases the foreigners brought with them. In 1901, the Commonwealth of Australia was born; most of them were English, Scottish, or Irish. The Aborigines couldn't vote and where not classified as "Australians." Many of the British immigrants were discriminative, nevertheless, mixed-raced children sprung up everywhere. During the 1930's, 40's, and 50's the government and churches decided to take the mixed-raced children and place them into orphanages or into white families. The Australian governments idea was to integrate the mixed-children into "white society." In this type of situation many children were taken by force. When the orphaned children grew into adults they revolted and in the 1980's the British realized their mistake and stopped stealing children. The generations of that time period are known as "the Stolen Generation." Aboriginal people still exist today, but they only make up 2% of the population because over the generations the aboriginal culture and languages have become extinct. Most of the population of Australians live near the cities but many Aboriginal Australians live today in their tribes and continue to celebrate their traditions.
     After researching the information about Australian history I felt I understood my friends better. History is extremely important because it tells the story of how people became the way they are. I don't know Australia completely because I have only seen it from my computer screen and on the T.V. My Australian friends have also described the landscape and other facts but its difficult to imagine. In the future I hope to better understand the Australians by visiting their country. In the end, I find experiencing a country is the only way to really comprehend the people.

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