|Country of Origin||India|
|Date of Birth||21/10/49|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1991|
|Submitted by||Rexton D'Cruz|
I worked as the senior English teacher at Montfort Higher Secondary School, Yercaud. The school was managed by a religious order called the Brothers of St. Gabriel. Most of the principals who ran the school during the 13 years I worked there (there were six of them) were enlightened, truly religious people. They cared about the students and respected the lay staff. The school reached dizzy heights under their caring stewardship. Then came this ‘cowboy’, who unleashed a five year reign of terror on the students and lay staff. That was enough for a lot of the Anglo-Indian teachers, including myself, to quit. So, thank you, Rev. Bro. JL, you saved my soul!
In those days, Indian families who migrated were only allowed to take the equivalent of $20 (US). This paltry sum, coupled with the fact that each family member was only given a luggage allowance of 20 kgs, made for a very worrying and stressful flight to Canberra. A European lady, who sat next to me on the flight, suggested that if I requested whisky a few times, she would drink it for me! I still do not drink hard alcohol. After her fifth or sixth drink, she actually fell on my lap, talking unintelligibly in what appeared to be an East European language! I thought it was hilarious! Mind you, she wanted to keep on going with the grog, but the air hostess politely suggested that they had run out of Scotch!
On arrival at Sydney, a customers officer asked me if I was an ex-Montfort student, as I was wearing a suit and the Montfort School blue & gold tie. We soon discovered that we both had that part of our lives in common. It was such a pleasant welcome to my newly adopted country.
I found Australians very friendly and trusting. My experience as a relief teacher (a job I did for almost 9 years) took me on a very steep learning curve. The culture shock was far greater than I had anticipated! I also felt offended when some people suggested that I had learnt my English pretty soon after my arrival in this country! I thought people were pretty ignorant of what goes on in countries outside of Australia, especially Asia and the Far East. The lack of scholarship from students, the emphasis on sport rather than on academics, the tolerance of disruptive classroom behaviour, the amount of rights given to children (without an expectation that they would use them responsibly) soon saw me re-train to become a counsellor-psychologist. I became a school counsellor in 2004 after doing a Masters in Community Education (Counselling), and the Fourth year of Psychology, both, through the University of Canberra. I am currently pursuing my third Masters, this time in Clinical Psychology, also through UC. After retirement, in about 7 to 8 years’ time, my wife & I plan to spend our Winter months doing volunteer social work to raise mental health awareness in India.
Both my children have done extremely well for themselves. Juanita is doing her Masters in Clinical Psychology. She did a three-year stint in England, working as a social worker for the British Civil Service during that time. Denver is working at securing a double degree in Sports Administration & Marketing. He has been twice to England to play cricket, and currently plays First Grade for the ANU as well as being a member of the ACT State Team, the Comets. Together, as a family, I like to think that we have done our little bit to make Australia ‘The Clever Country’. We are grateful for the great opportunities this country has given us, and thank God He has blessed us with good health to avail of these great opportunities.