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By Rowena Ashley, 2007 2:39 minutes

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Rowena tells the story of her Eurasian son's experience of growing up in Australia and the racism he has encountered. This story provides a glimpse into how some people judge others by their appearance ' in this case, racial appearance. The story raises issues surrounding the notion of 'right' to a place and the exclusion of those who do not conform to the in-group's sense of identity.

Collection Stories from Gippsland

Who 'belongs' to a place?

  • When Michael won a baby competition, why did a man say to Rowena, “These children are so lucky to have wonderful people to adopt them”? What stereotype had he assumed about Asian-looking babies?
  • When the man realised that Michael was Rowena’s natural son, why did he run off in disgust?
  • What did Rowena assume when Michael went to a grammar school?
  • Why did an audience member at the graduation ceremony sound so resentful? What stereotyped belief about Asian students did they hold?
  • How did the town of Korumburra disappoint Rowena? What were the assumptions of the residents there? Where did they think they belong? Where did they think Michael belongs? 
  • Rowena concludes, “Imagine if people could change.” From the information and emotion in her story, how do you think Rowena would like people to change?
  • Michael was born in the early 1970s. Hold a class debate on the topic: “Has the attitude of Australians towards people who look different to stereotypical, ‘mainstream’ Anglo-Saxon Australians changed since the 1970s?”