Here’s what I did this week;
- Read this article; http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2012/0621/1224318353649.html
- Read this article; http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2012/0621/breaking59.html
- Started thinking….
Do Irish people have a narrow-minded approach to emigration? Do we still fear the unknown? Do we want to emigration in search of greener hills but not too green because that would involve being pushed outside our “box of convenience”?
What strikes me from Article 1 is that Irish people seem to have a great need for convenience. Let’s emigrate. But only to a country that has a similar culture, where we can buy all the things we can in Ireland (only cheaper) and where we can speak English. Heaven forbid any Irish person would actually have to learn a new language from scratch or embrace a new culture. My view is that this approach is simply fear.
In 2012, the world is a small place. Yet Irish people know little or nothing about different cultures. When I came to Korea I didn’t know the first thing about it. We simply don’t embrace a sense of adventure in Ireland. It’s the predictable “go to Australia or America” approach to emigration. I can see why. For years, the Irish have been going to America and Australia and succeeding. I’m not disputing that. I’m saying that we simply aren’t encouraged to learn about different cultures and as a result the lack of knowledge let’s us down when it comes to taking emigration risks. Opportunities in “rest of the world” countries are there, waiting for the brave adventurous souls to step forward and take them.
I can see and have experienced the difficulties of emigrating to a “rest of the world” country. When I came to Korea, it was honestly the biggest shock to the system. I was just 22 when I came here and the first thing I thought was “well this isn’t Roscrea!” For the first two weeks, I had to be escorted to and from school because every building, every person, every store looked the same. My apartment (provided by the school) was just 4 white walls and lacked any homely touch. I had no phone, no bank account, no family and no friends. I couldn’t speak Korean or read Korean.I got bills and didn’t know how to pay them, whether I was paying too much or too little. I was one of only a few foreigners in my city so people would stop and stare and touch my white skin and at first it freaked me out. I had no idea what I was doing and there were nights when I would wake up wondering what the hell I was doing in Korea and how I was ever going to make a go of it. But after the initial shock wore off a new Shauna started to appear. When faced with these challenges, I found myself using initiative I never knew I had and I was more than capable of dealing with any situation that came my way. I wasn’t afraid to laugh at the ridiculousness of a situation and bit by bit, my new life started to come together. But I built it from the ground up. Was life difficult the first few months? Yes absolutely. Was it inconvenient? Yes absolutely.Is it still a little inconvenient at times? Yes absolutely. Would I do it again. Yes absolutely. When I got over the fear and stop worrying about what could go wrong and start seeing it as a new adventure, everything seemed to work itself out.
I also think that the fear of emigrating outside the box of convenience has a lot to do with our education system. After reading article 2, I realise how narrow our view of the world is in Ireland. Of the languages we could actually hold a conversation in Asian and African languages were nowhere to be seen. What is wrong with us? Can we not see that it is in our own interest to learn the languages of the world? America, China, Russia, all countries that hold huge power and influence in the world. America-English, we got that covered. But Russian and Chinese? While some Irish students in some schools have the opportunity to learn Russian, Chinese is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps if we started embracing these languages and learning about the cultures in schools nationwide, we could start to broaden our views of the world. Perhaps embracing these in our education system would see the fear of going to these countries diminish.Perhaps learning more about other societies and cultures in school would encourage our future generation to take the risks and go to the “rest of the world”.
So my message is that we shouldn’t fear the unknown. We shouldn’t be afraid to take the opportunities that require a little inconvenience and courage. Emigration should not be viewed only as an opportunity to gain new skills and opportunities, it should be looked at as an opportunity to share our skills and talents with the rest of the world. Irish people have a lot to offer and the “rest of the world” has plenty of opportunities if people are willing to reach out and take them.