Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Influence of Confucianism on Identity Formation of a Multi-Skilled Migrant: An Autoethnography

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The Influence of Confucianism on Identity Formation of a Multi-Skilled Migrant: An Autoethnography

Article excerpt


Recently, I was invited to be a panellist at the Monash Asia Institute International Symposium. Apart from asking intelligent questions, my job was to present a paper on how Asia Literacy was taught at Victorian secondary schools using my own experience as a migrant and my school as a case study. I left Macau for Australia when I was fifteen. I will be celebrating my 50th birthday in September, the arrival of the half century- the year of Jubilee and liberty; so 2014 seems to be an appropriate year for me to write about my life. Tenni, Smythe and Boucher (2003) argued that the researcher is required to study himself/herself in order to discover the reasons underpinning personal experience and professional practice. The research questions that I attempt to answer are, "Who am I? Who and what have influenced me to become who I am?" Willingham (2009) asserted that "we teach who we are" (p. 59), so it is necessary to explore my roots in order to present an up-to-date picture of my life and work as an educator who has taught for thirty years in various disciplines including music, languages (Chinese & ESL) and psychology across a number of different settings both in Australia and overseas - ranging from pre-school to secondary colleges, from private studios to commercial music and language schools, from broadcasting booth to television screen, and from recording studios to concert halls.

The Researcher and Her Research

I am a musician, psychotherapist, author, translator-interpreter, composer, researcher, studio and secondary school teacher. Over the course of my studies and work, I was fortunate to be granted with numerous scholarships, fellowships, community grants, academic awards, and sponsorships for overseas trainings, as well as being a cultural ambassador representing Australia. In 2013, I took a year off work to commence a PhD. I received the Australian Postgraduate Award, which continues to give me financial support for my research. Furthermore, I have been offered to become a co-author with my supervisor for a new book. As opportunity knocked, I resigned in April, 2014 from my well paid position as an expert teacher at the Department of Education after ten years of service, to join the Faculty of Education as a full time PhD candidate, a part time research assistant and teaching associate.

For a mono-lingual evolving to become a tri-lingual speaker, growing up had been a linguistically challenging and culturally confusing journey for me. From experiencing culture shock in my early stage of adaptation, and identity crisis later during the process of assimilation to the Australian culture; I had struggled to integrate my original culture to the culture of the new host country. Occasionally, I still experience disorientation when main stream Australians are blinded by the colour of my skin that considered me as an ethnic minority. On the other hand, recent Chinese migrants nicknamed earlier Chinese settlers as banana (yellow outside, white inside). They do not acknowledge my ethnic roots, because of my Australian mannerisms and the ways I handle problems which primarily deal with business, instead of handling a complex web of inter-group/intra-group relationships (Guanxi) first, which is the stereo-typical Chinese Way.

My doctoral research investigates the influence of the fusion of Confucianism and Western culture including Christianity and Humanistic Psychology on family dynamics, learning and identity formation of Chinese-Australian musicians. This topic covers a vast domain of knowledge inquires including philosophy, religions, psychology, languages, and cultural studies. The complexities of my multi-dimensional research paradigm reflect the person I have evolved to become, and I am still evolving. In addition to writing an autoethnography, I conducted a series of case studies among Chinese-Australian musicians using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA, Smith, 1995a, 1995b) as the method of data analysis. …

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