I'm Clement Paligaru and I'm from Fiji. I was born there, came to Australia when I was just 16 going on
here to study because that's what our parents who could afford to do, did
. They sent
their kids away to study.
In our family there is three of us, three boys, one went
to Canada. Australia was chosen
for my middle brother and myself because my uncle lived here and my parents were considering migrating to Australia.
I initially didn't want to come at all. I can't quite remember why but I knew
that I loved Fiji and it would be, I as the youngest, I was going to be away from my home, my family, my friends and resisted it actually.
I was a real sook when I came to Australia. I used to cry. There was six months I think where I cried each morning before going to school. I found Australia bland, I found Australia boring and I missed the lush place I came from.
Why I stayed here was because there was a huge change. My parents came over, people I missed a lot, and my brother, my eldest brother also came across and once they came here everything changed.
Within a year or so I'd tuned in to Australia and I didn't return to Fiji for seventeen years after that so I kind of switched off Fiji for seventeen years and started making my new life here.
After 17 years, I had to think about going back because my aunt passed away
. Someone at work actually said
to me, 'If you don't go now you'll never go back,' because I'd really cut my ties
with Fiji, and so I went back for this funeral but it was also the first time I went on assignment for Radio Australia.
And that's what began my re-acquaintance with the Pacific, my re-acquaintance with Fiji, and Fiji started feeding back into my life in Australia.
One way in which is I've been able to balance my Fijian identity with my Australian life and identity and my Indian heritage as well has been through work. I think being at Radio Australia has given
me one of those rare opportunities you get where you contribute to Australia and you also contribute to the Pacific and Fiji through your work.
I tell the region about what Australia is but I also tell the region about the region itself and I think, in that way, I've been able to reconcile.
I sometimes do find it a bit difficult when I go back and then return to Australia. It can get quite confusing sometimes and sometimes it can be a little dry, it can be you start missing the people who look like you, you miss the food and all that. And so I am thrown
into a bit of confusion but then I re-immerse myself in work and reconnect that way.
I think it's really been a great balance.. balancing act for me through work.
I can't imagine being in any other place. I can't imagine having another come as a country now because I'm able to express myself, I'm able to still have links with the Pacific and for example, Asia. I find India is very important in my life as well, because that's who I am ethnically and that's daily. I mix my worlds, I play with these worlds every day and that's an opportunity I don't think many people get.
And then I'm able to express myself and tell stories about what I'm doing and how all of this feeds into my life.