It is human nature for us to search for a place to belong, not realising that it is our perceptions and attitudes, not the place that allow us to belong. Good afternoon year 11. Today I’m here to talk to you about how my understanding of the aspects of belonging have changed through my studying of the two written texts, namely china coin by Allan Baillie and educating Rita by willy Russel. All of you will study these texts in year 12.
Before I start I want to ask you, would you belong to a place without your friends. Belonging is not just a defined word in the dictionary it often means more. Before, I thought belonging meant being part of the same culture or sharing the same religion until I studied these two texts which changed my opinion of belonging. Belonging means to have a feeling of connection, or acceptance to other people, places or groups and sharing believes and interest. That place of connection can be our school. Each of us have Aspects of belonging that shape us, whether it be personal or social.
Do we belong to this school because of the logo that’s on our uniforms or classes? Or is it our friends that make us belong? In both books the aspects of belonging that are explored are acceptance and relationships. The social context of belonging that’s explored within the play educating Rita discusses acceptance. The group that Rita used to belong in rejects her as she’s different and aspires to acquire an education.
This forces Rita to search for another group to belong to, as she doesn’t feel a connection to her previous friends. As Rita’s education progresses, we see her internal conflict deepen as she finds herself even further removed from a sense of belonging either with her family and friends, or with frank’s friends, or the fulltime students. Do any of you sometimes feel as if you don’t belong to a place or a group? Rita is placed within a similar circumstance. This allows the audience to empathize with her, enabling us to grasp a better understanding of the concept of belonging. Leah, the protagonist of the novel China Coin, does not accept her mother, her Chinese heritage or even her extended family. She considers herself to be an Australian not Chinese which results in her viewing her own mother as an enemy. It is only when she accepts her Chinese heritage that she feels as if she belongs to the family. I had never thought of belonging to be related to acceptance, however, I’ve learnt that the two are indeed closely related. Relationships are another strong element which allows one to feel as if they belong. On the other hand, Rita has weak relationships with her husband Denny and her family as well as her customers in the salon. She feels disconnected from the people surrounding her. Since they do not understand her passion for education, Rita feels as if she does not belong in her world.
However, by the end of the play, she realises she can change her sense of belonging. Rita searches for a new way to express herself and her identity, forming new relationships, which result in a variety of feelings of belonging. Leah’s relationship was strict with her mother at the beginning of the story, since she refers to her as an ‘evil aunt’ and ‘Joan’. This depicts that Leah was angry at her mother for forgetting her father so easily and quickly traveling to china. However, towards the end of the novel, Leah begins to understand her mother more through her own personal experiences. This is clearly highlighted within the following quote ‘’its over; Leah took Joan’s hand and squeezed. ‘we ‘ve been through a lot, eh ?” this demonstrates that Leah decides to end the conflict with her mother and rebuilding the relationship and feeling a sense of belonging to her. For us, teenagers it’s not always obvious how we feel, or think, rather we tend to make rash decisions that we normally regret.
Personally my ideas about belonging have changed after I studied the books and the concept of belonging. When I first came to Australia I chose, to belong with people from my own background which is why I mostly spent time with them at school. However, now after getting used to being in Australia and feeling more comfortable with other people, I now have good connections and similar interests with other friends of various backgrounds, which gives me a broader sense of belonging. When I first read the play Educating Rita, it came to me, that Rita is so much like me. I wanted to leave school, do hairdressing, get married and have kids! Rita’s situation opened my eyes and showed that I am very lucky to have this opportunity. That’s why I chose to stay in school and improve my education so I can follow my dreams in the future and belong to whatever my heart desires. THANKYOU LILILILILILILILLIIIIIII