I’ve received a phone call late last year from Notable Pictures who wanted to do a series of documentary. They have contacted the 10 of us from different backgrounds; different age groups, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin and even current place of residence. The one thing that bonded us was our identity as 1.5 generations.
1.5 generations or 1.5G are people who immigrate to a new country before or during their early teens. We bring characteristics from our home country but continue to integrate into the new country.
Many of us are bi-cultural, combining both cultures – culture from the country of origin with the culture of the new country. Our identification will be affected by experiences growing up in the new country. We are often bilingual and find it easier to integrate into the local culture and society than people who immigrated as adults.
Each week, audiences meet one 18-30 year old who is facing a defining moment in our life, and explore our concerns, hopes and fears. We have to use a handicam to record our own candid thoughts and feelings as well as introducing the mainstream to the refugee or migrant communities.
Each of us explored an issue, which unveil how our world views that may contradict to different cultural beliefs, and yet how we embraced this unique identity. The filming for each person took around 3 months, and each scene took a day to shoot. We were all involved with the filming, from the conception of each story, to discussion on how the story should go.
My specific topic was about my journey looking for a partner. Being a 1.5G means that it is hard to find someone who also shares the cultural understanding, particularly for someone like me to who deals with multicultural ethnic communities every day. There were some discussions that migrant Chinese boys find Chinese girls who have dated a “gwai lo” (white man) as “less worthy”. At the same time, when you have a relationship with a non-Chinese, they do not necessary understand many of the cultural practices that we take for granted.
Of course, my issues are more than my cultural background. I have been called “intimidating”; I present myself as a strong independent woman who are very strong minded, thus intimidating. Just because this is how I look, this is not necessarily who I am.
My friend reminded me the following the other day:
1.5 Kiwis are often seen too Kiwi by their ethnic communities, and ethnic by the Kiwi community. Finding a balance in the both worlds was a theme for me, and many others in the documentary.
It was an interesting experience – when you walk around all parts of Auckland with a film crew – you attract a lot of attention and a lot of questions. You also grow from being very camera conscience to become very comfortable. You constantly have to evaluate what you can say and what the producers/directors wanted. I remember sitting in front of the TV nervously even though I have seen the final edit of the show. I was wondering what my family; friends and colleagues would think when it went on air.
I was super nervous not only because of what people would think about me, and my passion with burlesque, but declaring that I had a crush on someone who, after the filming, have told me he is not interested in a relationship though that did not stop us from being seeing each another and kept doing what we were doing.
I was super nervous because I knew someone would tell him. I freaked out when I saw that he liked the Facebook page. I freaked out thinking he would never want to talk to me again. What if he hates me now? All these unnecessary thoughts are going through my head.
I was overwhelmed by the responses – I have people texting or contacting me on Facebook throughout the screening; people discussing this online; and people leaving messages online wanting to know how I am doing now.
I feel honoured to be invited to be part of this; I am passionate about telling the stories of 1.5G, particularly because I am one. I am very proud of all of us as we need to be courageous enough to share some of the most intimate moments of our lives and believes to the public. I am also very proud to be involved with a production which the hard work in promoting race relations was recognised by the Human Rights Commission.
It is screening on TV3, every Saturday at 10.25am until 4 August. You can follow the participants on http://www.facebook.com/BOTHWorldsNZ
If you haven’t seen my clip - you can see all episodes on http://ondemand.tv3.co.nz and search “Both Worlds”.