Something really important happened to me a few years ago, and it completely changed the way I see belonging…
In January 2008, I said goodbye to my family in Mozambique to come and study for a Master’s degree in Australia. Like many international students, I was chasing my childhood academic aspiration, to study in an unfamiliar land, a different language, and experience life overseas.
Soon after my arrival, they confronted me with several challenges: cultural differences and societal expectations to fit in, not necessarily to belong. I struggled to find my tribe, my people and meaning in the new land.
I resisted the process. My sense of belonging was bruised and challenged. I constantly compared things back home with things here in my host nation.
At the end of my degree, I got the chance to go back home to Mozambique. A place where I knew I belonged. But when I arrived there my people, back home, noticed I was different too.
It was hard to realize when I am in my host nation, I felt different to the people over there and when I am in my home nation; I am different from my people as well.
It was with this realization that the internal tension began within me and ignited my search for true belonging.
Where do I belong? Where is home? Here or there?
I discovered that belonging is not about a physical place and space. It is a mindset. It’s an issue of the heart-mind and spirit.
When I discovered I noticed a gap in support services for international students and migrants … this is how this project was Born.