08 November 2007

the world in Sydney

I like this story in the Sydney Morning Herald
A little soiree for Sydney's alphabet of nations
Adam Spencer
November 8, 2007

"Thirty-eight year old Sydneysider seeks temporary companion. Must be free this Friday morning, living in Sydney and originally from Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe … "

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Everyone says Sydney is a pretty diverse place. Well, let's see how diverse, I thought to myself. Let's try to track down people from as many countries as possible then assemble them in one spot. Now we are throwing a little soiree for about 500 of my nearest and dearest from more than 150 countries around the globe.

The response has been overwhelming. Within the first couple of days I'd spoken to Casey de Periera from the Seychelles, an island nation north-east of Madagascar. He even ran for the Seychelles at the Moscow Olympics. "The stadium had more people than my country," he said. And then there was Lolo Fernandez from Peru who told me: "I love Sydney … your roads are just so good".

I've been amazed by the range of people living in this city, their backgrounds and their stories. This week I spoke to Brigitte Wilkinson from Silesia, which you know and I know is situated between Germany and Poland and was seized by the Russians and given to the Poles after World War II. And then Iceland's Hanna Sigurjonsdottir, whose last name means "daughter of the son of Sigur", joined the team.

If you want an ambassadorial feel, we've even got Nadine Vernon coming along. "Who is she?" I hear you cry. Well, no less than the honorary consul of Belize, which you and I know is a former British colony which until 1973 was known as British Honduras and is the only Central American country with English as its official language.

In a world city whose mainstream media is too often too vanilla in every sense of the word, this just feels like it might be a lot of fun. And it's not too late to be part of it. In particular, if you're from Ukraine, Bermuda, Paraguay or even Vanuatu, give us a bell. Or Liechtenstein, Haiti, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Syria, Mongolia, Djibouti …

I should stress, this has never been an exercise about me telling people what constitutes a country - if you've come from somewhere else to live in Sydney, let us know about it. We have Garry Braude of Lane Cove representing East Prussia, which his family fled in 1939. There is no country called East Prussia now. But if he says he's from East Prussia, he's from East Prussia.

What I've realised is the amazing range of people who make up Sydney are just that. They're people, not percentages or pie charts. Everyone has a remarkable human story and the common thread is they've ended up here.

Adam Spencer is breakfast presenter on ABC 702. The World in Sydney will be broadcast live tomorrow from 6am to 7.45am. See www.abc.net.au/sydney for a list of nationalities still being sought.
I'm glad Sydney is not a place where everybody is the same. That would be so boring.

Happy Thursday. This evening, Emily, Margaret, Mary and I went to the Dumpling Inn, a local eaterie, for a Peking Duck dinner.

I even managed to get home in time to watch Bionic Woman and Heroes.

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