Going to primary school in 1970’s country Victoria meant sharing the playground with many Italian kids. Their exotic lunches of pasta, cheese and salami made everybody drool and their soccer ball skills tested everyone else's. I was not the only boy who learnt how to swear in Italian and I took great pride in my broadening language skills.
What I was not aware of was the battle many of these families had in establishing themselves in our area. To some they were wogs taking jobs. To others they were the losers of the Second World War who should go back to where they came from. I am glad I was unaware of this at the time. Those boys and girls were my friends.
So it is with great excitement that I look forward to attending Good Muslim Boy, Good Greek Girl and its exploration of being a first generation migrant assimilating into to a new culture.
Jan Molloy, coordinator of education programs at the Immigration Museum, will host Maria Katsonis and Osamah Sami in what I predict will be an exhilarating conversation and discussion about their lives and experiences.
Katsonis is of Greek background and has captured her family’s journey in her recently published memoir The Good Greek Girl. On her blog Katsonis describes herself as having been a good Greek girl until university when she abandoned study for a career in theatre. The Good Greek Girl shares her and her family’s struggle for acceptance and her battle with depression and suicidal ideation.
Sami was born in Iran to Iraqi parents and is the author of the memoir Good Muslim Boy. He is also an actor, screenwriter, goalkeeper, karate black belt, cricketer and Essendon supporter. His book details his childhood in Iraq and arrival in Australia, a phantom University course and escaping an arranged marriage. His blog Halal Aussie Daily has received considerable attention.
It is exhausting trying to write a summary of Katsonis’ and Sami’s personal achievements as individuals and members of a broader community and the mind boggles imagining how they will encapsulate their respective journeys in just a 90-minute session.
What seems certain is that it will be a fast paced, far reaching conversation revisiting the fascinating lives they have led to date and reflecting on how it has shaped them as people. I look forward to hearing their perspectives on the world we live in now, with particular emphasis on our current climate – where asylum seekers and racism in football never far from the media.
I am also hoping Katsonis will share her father’s recipe for roast lamb with lemon potatoes.
Good Muslim Boy, Good Greek Girl will run:
Thursday 27th August 6pm