There is an increasing number of international students travelling to Australia to pursue a degree or vocational course. In 2009, the number of international students enrolled in education programs in this country was 631,935. With this staggering figure how many have their Mums and Dads with them? A handful perhaps, maybe not!
This stark reality brings the writer to the "home front" of the essence of family. Whilst experiences in growing up and being with the family vary from one individual to another, the truth remains that our existence in this world is linked-up to the source of origin or lineage.
The birth of a child marks the beginning of a family unit. The structure of the family unit may be one of which both parents have taken full responsibility to nurture and rear their own child. Or, it may also be a family unit where the child is adopted and taken cared of by the adoptive parents.
In the growing-up years of any individual, the foundation of life is centred in the family that they grew up with. The understanding of love, respect, trust, sharing and the building-up of self-esteem and the belief in one's self are all the end products of the family unit. Unfortunately, it is also in being exposed to an abusive family that some could end up emotionally troubled in their adult life.
The essence of family is not limited or constricted to one's birth nest. The sense of being part of a bigger family with different dynamics may come in different stages of one's life. The sense of belonging is usually extended to a wider community - at school, at work, at a social club and on-line network like Facebook or Twitter.
Family affiliations may also come and go. Like in the case of these international students temporarily settled in Australia. With most of them originating from China, India, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, etc. it is evident coming from a country where close family knit is the tradition; living with families who provide board and lodging is the best option.
As these students learn to embrace the Western culture and adapt to Australian way of life, the essence of family becomes a treasure of a l ifetime.