Sudanese cultural group.
When I arrived in New Zealand, everything was so different for me, especially because it was a new place and the way of living.
When I first arrived, I had a bad experience because of the different time zones. I came with a refugee quota to Mangere Refugee Centre.
I slept in the daytime while at the night time I was awake. I was always missing my lunch. In Africa, it is the day time, while in New Zealand it’s night time. Slowly I adapted to it, and after two weeks I was able to sleep at night.
It was difficult for me to meet other people due to the people from new places. They were quite new to me – they looked different, and they spoke different languages. I might see someone new and want to say hello to her, but she might not even understand what I was saying and I might not even understand her. This made life very hard for me. I found that here in New Zealand if you want to visit someone, you need to call first before you go. I would just go to my friend’s house without any phone call if I were in my country.
Here in New Zealand people are busy with their own lives. Some people are working, night shifts, and in the day time they might be sleeping. I feel sorry when I call into their house, because I know they have to go back to work the following night.
I feel I have nobody to talk with, and I really feel isolated from the others. There’s no-one who could accompany me to go to social groups, or like to a club. Back home we used to live in a big family that included the uncle, aunties, sisters, brothers – and here there is only a few of them.
I feel I have lost things that are important to me, because of these experiences. I’ve lost happiness, values, and people to spend time with.
CLIMATIC DIFFERENCE (WEATHER)
The climate here in New Zealand is so different from my country, the Sudan. Here it is cold and there it is warm. I have experienced the dampness of the surroundings in New Zealand. It is wet and I don’t like it compared to the warmth of the Sudan which is hot and dry, especially the north of the country. In the southern part of the Sudan there are two seasons only- a wet and a dry one. The Sudanese wet season is different to New Zealand. There it is warm, here it is cold.
The coldness of New Zealand winters eats me alive. It’s awful! In Sudan nobody ever even worried about putting on any heavy jackets and as I am still used to warmer weather, New Zealand’s weather can really make me sick. My body has not got resistance yet.
I’m experiencing terrifying stormy weather, here, which can prevent everyone from going to work or to places they want to go to. All the roads are being covered up by the landslips and the trees. It gets slippery for the cars or even human beings to move safely. In Wellington its quite windy but we don’t get dust storms like I did in Sudan.
In New Zealand there is many different cultures, and many activities have cultural aspects e.g. communications, customs, behaviours, beliefs and spiritual beliefs.
New Zealand is a multicultural country. When people are talking to each other they use body language and gestures e.g. raising your hand up with palm open, cycling one finger around. In New Zealand this gesture is to call someone to come here, but in Sudan it is considered rude to gesture with your hands. Other gestures include raising thumb up which means very good, and sticking two fingers up with your palm facing away means peace.
I will now talk about the common barriers of communication. Due to many barriers the communication becomes very difficult. Language and cultural differences are some of the barriers. Here in New Zealand people are using too much slang or jargon words and the people whose English is their second language, they can’t understand it. For example “She’s hot” means she looks good, “she’s cool” means good.
Here people speak too fast, using words with double meanings, stereotyping and making generalisations, thinking that people from other cultures believe the same things e.g. In New Zealand culture it is important to look at people when you are talking to them, but not too much otherwise it becomes staring.
Some behaviours can be good or bad, for example standing with hands on your hips to some people is a sign of aggressiveness. Sitting on the table where the food is served is an offensive behaviour.
People have different values. What people do, what is good and what they believe in for example, things people like, their customs, ways of dressing. In Maori culture, the elderly people are respected and given the power to give advice and work with the community. Now days some of the elderly people are being neglected and limited in their power and there is no respect being paid to the elderly people. Nowadays freedom and rights for children has made their behaviour bad. Now the children do what they want to do. Even their parents are unable to talk about anything with their children.
Family is different too. Here in New Zealand the family lives together with their children. When they are still young and amongst the family, everybody can be the breadwinner, both the husband and wife can contribute to their living and pay the bills.
But when the children grow up they leave their parents house, then they move out and live with their friends, work mates or school mates. Here people have small families. They don’t live in big families, for example the extended families or relatives are excluded from the family.
Societal differences. Here people are living in a big society. The society is supported by the communities by gathering together, sharing information, ideas and supporting the disabled people.
Finally, there are differences in beliefs. Beliefs are what we think is true or not true. Here people believe that smiling is showing happiness, liking or loving people. Nodding your head means good or ok or yes in Sudanese culture as well as in New Zealand. However showing the soles of your feet or shoe in Sudan is offensive but in New Zealand it doesn’t mean anything. In Sudan the main religions are Christianity majority and then Islam, however there are many other religions also.
hello - I am Margaret. This was taken on 15 July 2009.I used to live in Kenya in the Refugee Camp.
I came to live in Wellington, NZ in 2005.
I am living in Lower Hutt at Waterloo Central.I am living with my cousin’s sister and her family.
I work as care assistant at the Rest Home.
I am studying Journalism at Wellington city, as I like meeting people and talking with them.