The question of identity: Who am I?

As you could already tell that I got very inspired by my Global Migration Stories – subject, after having visited the Immigration Museum ( yesterday, I feel even more fascinated by people constantly moving around. Admittedly, it would have been so much wiser if I had gone there before my exam, but well, better late than never. The history of (im)migration in Australia is easily explained, so if you are interested in knowing more about that, then the immigration museum is THE place to be. After my essay on my family migration story, I truly feel I have learned heaps about my family but also about myself, appreciating the factors that are shaping your personality… your identity.

Personally, I reckon that it is important to early start dwelling upon the topic of identity. In fact, I am sure that, sooner or later, you come to the point where you ask yourself: who am I? I entered the room of “identity – yours, mine, ours” after I had read this writing on the wall:

“How well do we really know ourselves? We all come with a life story. Our story changes as we grow and encounter different people. We move closer to some people. We distance ourselves from others. Identity is how we present ourselves to the world. It embodies our memories, secrets and things we do not yet know. Discover something new about yourself. Question your assumptions. Share your thought.”

The ‘identity room’ did not disappoint me at all! I was strolling around, reading everything very carefully. I could agree with everything and have thought about those questions so many times before, but sometimes it’s good to have it written down somewhere or spoken out loud to be more aware of it. Both questions on identity and quotes by migrants were very thought-provoking and I could identify and/or emphathise with many of them. So, because ‘sharing is caring’, some incentives for mind activity, just for you:


“I looked quite normal, I sounded like everyone else, but I had a surname which no one could ever pronounce.” – S. Mycak

“As an adolescent growing up, my name caused me great embarassment and I hated anything that was Asian. How I wished to be Mary Smith.” – K. Vivekanada


” ‘But you don’t look like a Muslim’ would be the most common response. Do I look like a Christian then? Are we supposed to look like our religion? I prefer just to look like myself.” – Bogumil


“I have come to understand that language shapes the way people think and feel, and vice versa. I often felt that I could not describe in English what I was feeling. I could not find in English exact expressions matching my bodily sensations.” – Kyung-Joo

“If we lose our language, we lose a part of ourselves.”

Then, there was a photo exhibition of migrants who are still on the move. Each caption describes name, place of birth, destination and that reminded me of a project of one of my friends back in Malmö that’s called “Don’t ask me where I’m from. Ask me where I’m heading.” and exactly deals with those issues mentioned before.

This semester in Melbourne has challenged me a lot and has opened up so many different perspectives and point of views. I am delving into topics such as identity, existence, science and religion, language and communication.

I know this post is way too long than I wanted it to be, but I just felt the urgent need to share it with you, mates!

-for your consideration-


About Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Don't ask me where I'm from. Ask me where I'm heading.
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4 Responses to The question of identity: Who am I?

  1. kingakozaczka says:

    That is really long mate. Will read it over a cup of coffee!

  2. Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh says:

    That is a really short comment, mate. I hope you’re not speechless or running out of words because “if we lose our language, we lose a part of ourselves.”

  3. Magdalene Rule says:

    Hello Hoang,
    I must say that the article is well written and has motivated me to take the subject.
    I’m a student at Latrobe and would very much want to get an overview of the subject and what kind of books to look at to get the ball rolling.
    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Hi Magdalene,

      Thank you for your comment and sorry for my late response, I am not very active on this blog anymore. Great that I could motivate you to take the subject!

      During the semester, you will learn about the history of (im-)migration in/to Australia, the reasons of global movement of people and the impact on today’s society. Also, you will be talking about topics, e.g. multiculturalism, assimilation/alienation, race, society (and so much more – I better stop here and hope your tutor will be as passionate about the subject as mine was!).

      Most of the course literature was online in forms of articles, documentaries, etc. (see LMS), but there are plenty of books in the uni library about (global) migration in general as well as about specific ones such as Italian/Greek/Chinese/Vietnamese/German/etc. in Australia.

      If you have got any other questions concerning the subject, I am happy to answer them!

      Bien cordialement (from Bordeaux at the moment),

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