177 Nations of Tasmania aims to broadcast interviews with at least one member of all 177 of the nationalities represented in Tasmania's last census and find out about their journey to be here, their lives, experiences, hopes and dreams, and what makes them tick.
When Boyd arrived in Australia with his family at 18 years old, his father's first act, perhaps a symbolic one, was to take the family out for a seafood lunch and told his children that Zimbabwe was where they were brought up, but if anyone asked to say "Australia is my home now". Advice Boyd credits with helping him settle down in the new country much quicker.
Years later he returned to Zimbabwe with his father and heard for the first time about some of his father's experiences as a soldier in the war leading up to independence in 1980, experiences which had long-term impacts on his father ( as with many veterans of armed conflicts).
Dona grew up in small village in the Philippines where just getting to school required deep commitment - literally, as kids had to cross a river with no bridge to get to their primary school. Dona had a strict religious upbringing, but broke family traditions and expectations by not marrying a pastor, rather she found love online with a man in Tasmania.
15 years ago, she came to Tasmania nothing about life here, in fact before she came she had confused it with Tanzania ! Despite a disappointing lack of big shopping malls, Dona has learnt to love bushwalking and nature and does volunteer work helping to support new arrivals through food and has initiated a charity to help young footballers in the Philippines with the help of local Tasmanian soccer clubs.
When Paola left Argentina for the first time having just finished uni studies, she never expected she would have ended up at the bottom of the world in southern Tasmania. The plan had actually been to backpack around Europe and go back to Argentina, but a 500 km walk on the Camino in Spain with an Aussie guy she met travelling lead to a kind of spiritual awakening, falling in love and then moving to Australia.
Just over two years ago her and her husband made the decision to trade a successful life in Sydney and move the family to a country property just outside the township of Cygnet, a 50 minute drive south of Hobart, a decision which has exceeded her expectations in many ways.
Elaine arrived in Tasmania in 2013, when her husband got a position in the Philosophy Department at the University of Tasmania. Originating from a small town in the "Rust Belt" state of Ohio, she came via Melbourne ( 19 years ) and London, looking for a change and a place to concentrate on her writing.
Americans now make up Tasmania's 7th largest migrant group, and it's a group that has been growing, according to the last census.
As a long-term resident of Australia/Tasmania , Elaine has some interesting reflections on some of the cultural differences between Australia and the US and also about how living abroad so long has changed the outlook she has of her country of birth. Also, despite not being a particularly sporty person, she has developed a passion for Aussie Rules football ( You'll have to listen to find out what team she supports), particularly the women's pro league.
After Carlos's mother remarried and relocated from Peru to Tasmania in 1972, 12-year-old Carlos was meant to follow. His visa application was rejected and Carlos was left in the care of his elderly grandmother who was too old to look after him properly. Carlos, though a victim of polio at an early age had made him lame, lived a privileged early life, but left to educate himself through his high school years, life was tough in Peru. His parents had stressed to him the importance of getting an education should he make it to Australia, but it wasn't until 1984 that he was able to visit them on a tourist visa and after many trials was able to get residence. Although initially he did not like Hobart - he spoke no English and there were almost no Spanish speakers, he would eventually go on to study art in Hobart and become an accomplished wood artist.
Carlos's is a great story of resilience and persistence and a strong pride in his Peruvian heritage
Like many other recent migrants, Carlos was drawn to Tasmania by the regional migration programme, after spending a year in Melbourne. He and his wife had decided to leave Colombia 4 years ago to seek a safer and more secure life in Australia. Carlos bought with him much experience working in social projects in Bogota, but with few employment opportunities in Tasmania, he ended up working in an apple orchard and doing cleaning at the university. However, through persistence he managed to get an opportunity work in a job that he now loves with the Red Cross.
Although Tasmania seemed a bit too quiet for him at first and the lack of variety you might get in a large city is something he misses, coming from Colombia he appreciates living in a safe and secure environment above all.
Grace Nguyen, or to give her her Vietnamese name, Ngoc Thanh Tu Nguyen, is not perhaps your typical Vietnamese accounting graduate. She came to Tasmania 8 years ago with some music and business studies in Ho Chi Minh City behind her. In her time in Tasmania she's been a volunteer for the Wilderness Society, sang with the Southern Gospel Choir, played a role in a music with a local theatre company and even tried her hand at pole dancing classes , and that's on top of having studied a three-year degree in a language that she really struggled with on first arrival.
Grace also offers some great advice on one of the toughest issues facing new migrants to Tasmania - how to tap into the "hidden" jobs market.
When Claudia contacted me about participating in the podcast she told me she met her husband after buying a used car from him in Tasmania almost 20 years ago, and I was instantly intrigued. In fact the full story could easily come out of a romance novel - Girl from a village in the Swiss Alps with minimal English language meets New Zealand single father after buying used car from him on Bruny Island and they end up getting married.
Claudia grew up in an area of Switzerland often refered to as "Heidi land", after the well know childrens books, in a small village full of traditions and rituals and a strong sense of community, something she also found in Tasmania. Like many migrants, setting up life in Tasmania meant in many ways starting afresh, with her teachers qualifications not recognised in Tassie at the time.
When Kalana came to Tasmania in October 2019, he was 110kg and feeling a bit lost after four not-entirely-happy years studying and working in Melbourne. But in his short time in Hobart he has experienced some dramatic improvements in his physical and mental well-being, mainly through small things that many of us locals would take for granted, such as free music events and many places to relax.
Kalana grew up in Colombo with his mother and two sisters and the family struggled in his young years, moving house many times. But everyone around them struggled too, so he did not feel it so much. When he moved to study in Melbourne it was the first time he'd lived a way from his familt, a bit step for a young man. In Melbourne he got a job at a motel and eventually he realised that he preferred hospitality to accountancy...a choice that was costly in the short term but contributed to his choice of Tasmania as a destination.
The story of Teodor Flonta's life could easily make an intriguing film script, beginning in a small Transylvanian peasant village surrounded by extended family and old men with moustaches who would fascinate him with their ghost stories. When he was young his father declared an "enemy of the people" by the communist regime and throughout the 50s was arrested, imprisoned and tormented. With an aptitude for languages, it seemed Teodor was destined to leave Romania and eventually did after meeting his future Italian wife, Ariella. After 7 years in Italy they moved to Australia to teach Italian in Adelaide. Teodor arrived in 1978 with no English but by the 80s was running the Italian department at the University of Tasmania.
As Teodor has had a long and eventful life, this episode is longer and divided into three chapters. Part 1 will give you a real feel of peasant life in the Romanian village, but also understand the personal impact of the communist dictatorship that ruled Romania on peoples' lives. Part 2 focuses on how his interest and aptitude for languages was the first step in a journey out of Romania, meeting his Italian wife Ariella. The third part is how he came to Australia and then settle down in Tasmania as a lecturer in Italian.
In many ways it's a personal story of particular place and time, but it also touches on universal themes that continue to effect new arrivals to our shores fleeing repressive regimes and political or personal persecution.
Teodor also reads several passages from his book, "A Luminous Future" , which focuses on the experiences of his father in Communist Romania.
Prakash arrived in Hobart in 2009 with his wife with the intention to study Accounting, however, after only 6 months he switched to studying Commercial Cookery, though he had no prior experience. It proved a fortuitous joint as it lead to him eventually getting a position at a popular local seafood restaurant where he has now worked for 10 years , in the meantime being initiated into the mysteries of Aussie slang and occasional pranking by workmates.
Prakash is a proud member of the growing Nepali community, now one of the largest and fastest-growing in the state and has been heavily involved in the Nepali-community based cricket team the Gurkha Legends, for which he has big dreams.
A common response when I've mentioned Eritrea is "Where is that?" or "I've never heard of that country". Eritrea is a country on the Horn of Africa, bordering Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti, which gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Since then it has been a one-party state with, according to Human Rights Watch, one of the worst human right records in the world. As a result, many Eritreans have fled the country to escape persecution or the country's compulsory and indefinite military service. In recent years, more and more Eritreans have settled in Tasmania, with the community now estimated in the hundreds.
Ruth ( not her real name ) agreed to talk with me about her story of escaping Eritrea to an refugee camp in Ethiopia and sharing some of her experiences of settling down in Tasmania in the last 3 years. I hope that Ruth's story will help others appreciate the difficult realities many refugees face once they have fled their country and appreciate better what to us are unthinkable conditions that drive people to flee their home.
The Pakistani community in Tasmania is one of several South Asian groups that has grown quite noticeably in recent years, partly driven by the Australian Government's Regional visa program. Many Tasmanians would be unaware of this.... unless they are involved with local cricket, which is where I met Tabish, a big hittting batsman from Islamabad. Tabish spent 9 years in Sydney before moving to Hobart with his wife and two girls. a year and a half ago and now says he is in love with Tasmania, with many aspects of life here reminding him of Pakistan.
Thanatcha aka Oil arrived in Launceston just under two years ago after meeting her Australian husband at an international school where she was working in her hometown of Pattaya. She starting teaching piano when she was only 15 and now teaches it from her home in Launceston. Thanatcha talks about the challenges of settling down in Launceston, a town vastly different from where she came from, how she''s learnt to adapt to local culture and the value to migrants of understanding "footy" for getting to know locals.
Bulgarians are probably the least represented of the Balkan peoples in Tasmania and Australia. For many in Australia, Bulgaria is a land of dark mystery more commonly associated with burly Olympic weightlifters than classical concert pianists. . In this episode, find out about how a Bulgarian ends up studying at "the end of the world" and how she sees life in Tasmania and hear about a unique and rather surprising Bulgarian custom.
Music extracts played by Gergana Yildiz from "Spring Caprices" by Lubomir Pipkov.
After living the first 32 years of his life on the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania, Eddie Mohammed married a Tasmanian lady and made the decision to leave his old life behind and start anew on the vastly different island of Tasmania. Settling in was hard, with the challenges including the weather, finding employment ,adjusting to unfamiliar social customs and no African population to speak of all facing him. A chance meeting led Eddie to joining a local soccer club and sport proved to be his pathway to feeling more at home - he got work and a social network. Eddie now coaches youth soccer and has coached and mentored young African migrants, and his influence has often extended beyond the soccer pitch.
Aidan Tkay was born in Uganda to parents of Rwandan heritage. He grew up in the crowded city of Kampala at a school with many different African nationalities whose families had sought safe haven in Uganda, In his teens he became passionate about music and performance and he has brought this passion to Tasmania and has performed his Afrobeats-influenced music at numerous local events. A trained social worker, he went from working for NGOs in refugee camps in central Africa to now working in disability services in Hobart.
You can hear some of his music here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cot9kE6iUQM
Kadir was born in a small city between Ankara and Cappadocia in Turkey. He arrived in Hobart 19 years ago, the hometown of his wife at the time., who he had met while they were both volunteering in England. Kadir was a qualified physiotherapist, but faced a hard struggle to get his qualifications recognised and like many new migrants, he had to start life all over again. After years of study and then jobs in restaurants and a bakery, Kadir got a position as an interpreter at Centrelink, where he still works.
I talked to Kadir about his experiences as a migrant from Turkey to Tasmania, the challenges and the cultural contrasts that he has observed.