I travelled on the train to Eastwood to undertake some research of Chinese-Australian people. Although I have been to Ashfield and Chatswood before I have never been to Eastwood before. Relatively speaking there are many similarities between these areas but I found a much higher concentration of Chinese-Australian people at Eastwood. The AEIOU method I implemented is a starting point for my research and going into it I was aware of its limitations. As a framework for observation it served the following purposes:
- A heuristic attempt of cross-cultural learning,
- A captured moment in time and,
- A starting point to contextualise the responses of my interview.
The findings I recorded were taken down through the lens of my preconceptions and formed notions of environments, users and engagement. However, I was aware of this and attempted to limit any bias.
Older people tended to group together and seemed to be walking between point a and b. They were shopping at local fruit and veg shops and butchers.
They seemed active for their age and willing and able to engage in physical tasks.
As I was taking the train back into the city I bordered behind a group of older women chatting in Chinese. They struggled to walk in and carry their wheeled-baskets in time and the doors started to shut on them. It certainty appeared to be a challenge for them and it led to me having to hold the door open for them.
The mall named Rowe Street at Eastwood is a communal space. The urban design of the environment closely resembles many outdoor commercial shopping malls in Australian cities and towns. The Rowe Street mall has a distinct 1980s Australian suburban feel to its urban design.
The context of space revolves around Chinese Australian people buying their food and running their errands. I feel that it did not have a stressful or rushed sense about it relative to shopping precincts I live in and frequent like King St and Broadway Shopping centre.
Three distinct differences between the environments I frequent and Eastwood were that there were ‘hole in the wall’ food stalls or markets, which looked to have been set up for the days trading (see picture). The commercial rents in Newtown and Broadway would most likely prevent this from happening. That there was Chinese test symbols in many of the places and on many of the things that I am used to seeing in English, for example the Commonwealth Bank wayfinding and the Eastwood train station information boards. The third major difference was the gigantic Australian flag that cannot be missed when exiting the train station. This is something I am not used to but conjures a feeling of the struggle for ‘multi-culturalism’ in Australia. An Australian flag of the size and prominence in Newtown for example, would be totally bizarre.
I walked into a small food shop to observe the happenings inside. There was a lady speaking in Mandarin over the PA system for the entire time I was in the shop which I found. As I tripped over a basket of food on the floor I asked one of shop-keepers
the whereabouts of a couple of items. The shop was very busy and there was a sense of organized chaos. Shoppers and workers were all interacting with one another and it created a really friendly atmosphere.
Many of the aged people walking around the Rowe Street mall were pulling wheeled baskets. I noticed that almost all of the younger Chinese people were looking at or walking with a smart phone and I didn’t see one person over the age of approximately 40 holding one.
I attempted to engage with user activity of the environment described by observing the activities, paths and behaviour of aged people on Rowe St. I engaged three aged individuals – two males and one female and one group of four aged females.
The interviews were undertaken via email. The interviewee was given a sheet of paper with the the guiding propositions and flexible diversions were encouraged. Lois, 79 is retired and lived in Adelaide SA. She is two times widowed and currently has a partner, David.
Delighted to help.
How do you maintain a sense of well being (such as physical, psychological, spiritual)?
Physically I am not as sharp as I was. Up until recently I was walking to the Dulwich coffee shop for a skinny cap and a read of the paper everyday but my knee prevents me. I suppose I have been held in good stead to myself because of years of aerobics. Psychological I have David who is always keeping me busy. We recently did a long drive to Sydney and Gosford (from Adelaide) to visit family. Things like this keep your mind active and its good to travel. Spiritually I don’t have or need anything carrying me through my old age. It’s something I’ve never really connected to. Although some people I know who have also never had that connection have made it later in life when illnesses ala cancer set in and husbands and wife drop off.
What is your sense of belonging (social, community)?
I maintain the council gardens at the Free St. park. I’ve done this for a decade or so now. It gives me a little ‘in’ with the local Norwood council and visitors and regulars to the park all seem to love it. It’s a daily task so it keeps me busy enough. I have been friendly with most people on my street for as long as I care to remember. Recently a new Russian community hall has opened and it’s changed the feeling of the street a little bit.
What is your sense of becoming (personal goals, hopes and aspirations)?
I’ve done everything I set out to do after when Ted died (second husband). The travels I did through the rivers of Europe and Germany led me to meeting Carl. From there I lived between his house in Alaska and back here in Adelaide. That lasted five years or so of constant back and forth – that I loved. Doing that sort of thing wasn’t a personal goal as much as taking advantage of opportunities when they are luckily presented to me. I’ve been really lucky with that sort of thing. David and I went for a walk in the Botanic gardens yesterday. It was so lovely with all the falling Autumn leaves and colours .
I have been finalising plans for Europe next month. None of this stuff gets any easier but at the very least it excercises my brain and is one heck of a challenge.
What are your challenges, frustrations or unmet goals?
Since my spinal surgery (approximately 10 years ago) I haven’t been held back by any physical limitations. Until recently that is with my knee. The family dynamic seems to be changing quite rapidly of late. It becoming more difficult to keep up with what people are up to. For example when you moved away from Adelaide.
Myself and Lois at her home.
Lois and her partner shortly after meeting on a trip to Europe.
I am really impressed with what you are doing and it is a field wide open for innovation as our population ages.
Bon Voyage dear. I will be in touch. XXX Granny
Myself and my father helping cut a tree in her self maintained council gardens.
My findings from this piece of primary inform me that some older people in Australia have great opportunity to reach their goals and aspirations after the professional or working life has ceased. With the example of Lois I feel that she has had further opportunity than most to travel and discover adventures and people because of the amount of travel she did as a professional. In a small way, the findings from this interview may help me with further research I will undertake in Beijing. But I feel confident that it may assist me in establishing guiding propositions going into working with aged people in a foreign culture.
jack fahy 99131981