I heard somewhere recently that each business must create 10,000 actions before it launches. Well I’m sure in my case I have used up my 10,000 just on the manufacturing aspect of our business.
Taking a trip to China to oversee the manufacture of our first product was such a wonderful experience for me on so many levels. Firstly I had a chance to reconnect with my roots. I’m what is called a “banana”. I was born in Sydney, Australia to my Chinese parents, Malcolm and Jan Wong. I am the oldest of three children all born in Sydney.
Why a banana? I have yellow skin, however I’m white on the inside. This is the description of Australia Born Chinese person. The Wong Children in our Family are first generation Australian born Chinese. My old school friends often remind me that they never thought about my heritage, I’m just an Aussie to them. When Dad is upset with me, he will say “Oh, that’s right, you are an Aussie. That’s why you can’t understand my Chinese thinking.”
I am very proud to the have the best of both worlds. Sure I speak pigeon Chinese, (most of the Chinese words I can speak are food related) and while I would love to be fluent in the language, we do what we can right?
In Cantonese, which is the language I understand very well (I’m so fluent at speaking it myself), is seldom spoken. Mandarin, the official language of China is a totally different language. This made things quite funny when my Dad and I were at the manufactures in China, along with uncle and Aunty who joined us from Hong Kong.
Here’s the scene. I’m explaining to Dad in English, he is translating, often slowly and with difficulty my instructions or questions to my uncle in Cantonese. My uncle would then translate to Giant, the manufacture, in Mandarin.
Giant would then respond in Mandarin, which my Uncle would need to translate to Cantonese for my dad, who would then translate to English for me.
Eventually we would all nod our heads and move onto the next discussion point. I think Giant handles the Wongs very well indeed and was wonderfully patient with us!
I found this scene reminiscent of a Woody Allan film.
Giant explained that this is very common situation in China. Many clients they deal with bring members of their family. Everything we Chinese do is a family matter. Most of the time it’s wonderful, however, my Australian upbringing that causes me to sometimes struggle with this entanglement. I find it beautiful that here I was, in China, setting up manufacturing of a social cause product, because while I couldn’t get it made in Australia, it was a product I had designed in Australia and is itself an Aussie icon.
Many of you will already own one pair of flip flops. Or several if you are anything like me. Did you know the average Australia owns five pairs!?
After a long first day in Dongguan, China, we hopped back on the train to Hong Kong, tired and satisfied with what we had seen and accomplished at the manufacturing plant. And all feeling like we had become experts in the production of rubber flip flops.
Part of what makes Australia wonderful is the amazing mix of cultures, backgrounds and traditions that all swirl up together in this amazing country of ours. I love my Chinese heritage and experiances like our trip allow me to learn and experiance more it. I also love that my parents raised us in this beautiful country.
I’m proud to be a banana!
I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful Australia Day!