Reflections as a Migrant

BY SANGEETHA ALEXANDER

There was once an Indian man who applied for a job in a call centre, as many Indian people do – if you call BT or a bank it will often be an Indian person who answers. Well, he went for the interview and was asked to make a sentence using the colours green, pink and yellow. So this man thought for a long time, then answered "the phone went green green, so I pink it up and said yellow."

My name is Sangeetha Alexander and I came to NI in 2006 to study at the Belfast Bible College. While studying in college, I met my Irish husband Mark, got married and am a proud mother of a gorgeous 5-year-old daughter called Esther.

I heard about the Belonging Project through my husband and got in touch with Jasmine, Claire and Laurence Gibson on March 4th 2015. It was wonderful and a privilege to have my picture taken by Laurence and to be interviewed by Jasmine.

I attended the family day on August 15th which is also the Independence Day of India! I met some wonderful mothers and ladies from India, Africa, China and other countries; it was like meeting my extended family of sisters; in other words a home away from home.

On the Belonging Project's Workshop Toolkit

 Sangeetha speaking at the launch of the Workshop Toolkit.

Sangeetha speaking at the launch of the Workshop Toolkit.

The red pack targeting children from the age of 5-11 – my daughter Esther is 5 years old and is growing up in an inter-racial home. She knows she is both Indian and Irish and at this tender age it is wise to teach tolerance, love and acceptance of different cultures and ethnic groups, by telling stories of different cultures, having more ethnic minority people on kids’ television and talking positively of immigrants.

The blue pack 11-16 – I, unfortunately, do not have much knowledge about teens. I do not know if that is a good thing or a bad thing (!), but I know that society, culture and media, plus peer pressure, govern the pre-conceived idea of the teens. Talking positively of immigrants is important, as well as love and acceptance of people of other countries without bigotry.

Pink pack 16 and above – we all know the song ‘I Am 16 Going on 17’ from the movie the Sound of Music, and I still wish I was 16, but by this age the presuppositions – in other words, the way an individual sees a migrant or an individual from an ethnic minority – has already formed. The upbringing of family media and society, especially peer pressure, have fashioned this young adult’s mind. It is very important to have positive opinions of migrants and also as the Belonging Project says, hearing the stories of the migrants to change pre-conceived opinions.