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Migrant Stories

Migrant Stories

"I grew up in an immigrant neighborhood. We just knew the rule was you're going to have to work twice as hard." Lin-Manuel Miranda

Twice as hard in anything that you have to do, that is what being a migrant is all about.  I arrived in Australia as a baby, so in a lot of ways, it is as if I was born in this country, but not quite.  I lived in a world that was inherently Greek, with a work ethic that was austere, and as a little girl I had to follow suite to make sure that I was able to keep up.  My parents worked in factories, as hard as any other migrant who arrived in Australia.  They had a goal, and that was to save for a house, for without owning a house the rest cannot follow, priority number one.  Priority number two fell on me, and that was to study hard.  "Να διαβάσεις"  Sometimes I had to create extra work for myself, pretending that Enid Blyton was on the curriculum, or that the poster sprawled on the kitchen table was for a school project.  I look back now and I wonder if kids still do that; create extra work for themselves. Essentially I had to look busy, idleness was not an option.  That is the way of the migrant.

When I got older I made friends from migrant families too, and the stories were similar.  There was a huge emphasis on education.  My parents relayed to me how important it was, and how their lack of education was a huge liability.  I carried this sensibility throughout my life and instilled it in my own children; the second generation, the ones who still connect with their heritage but have created a whole life for themselves, confident in knowing that Australia is their home-their only home.  

I don't remember my first year in Australia as I was too little, but I do have a feeling from that time, maybe it is because of the stories that have been passed down from my family, or the locked memories stagnant in my subconscious but I do know there was a sentiment of excitement, a sense of closeness, support, togetherness.  There was a notion of happiness, and even though it was hard, there was definitely a sense of accomplishment.  These were the early years, and life moves on and changes. 

All of this has spurred me to create the Migrant Stories online series-one for each week, 52 stories.  A collection of stories from migrants from all nations who have made Australia their home and their experiences of their very first year in this new country.  Various organisations have created similar story telling platforms, but not many have broached that first year.  Will these stories show excitement? Togetherness? Feelings of closeness and accomplishment?  Will they show sadness, or remorse?  Whatever the outcome I look forward to sharing these stories online.  They are an important addition to our multicultural country's story arc; a country that has worked so hard to incorporate so many different cultures and people.

If you are a migrant, from any year or decade, and would like to be one of the 52 people to share your first year in Australia story, please email me at:, interviews will commence after June the 14th, 2017.  I look forward to working with you and bringing to light an important part of your life in Australia. 

                                                           Stella Dimadis


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