walk into a room … to share their love of Australia and become full Aussie citizens.
Englishman Ian Thompson, and Bangladeshi Muhammad Nazmul Hasan may be from worlds apart, but they share views of Australia as being a great place to live and belong.
Muhammad came to Australia in 2007 on a student visa, to further his love of cooking. Ian, on the other hand, was brought to Australia as a four-year-old by his migrant parents, more than 45 years ago.
Drawn to the Clarence by an employment opportunity, Muhammad has now achieved his dream of working as a chef. Ian has enjoyed the freedom to follow numerous work opportunities, as a fridge mechanic, timber mill worker, information technology consultant, and now as the owner of a Grafton retail store. Both Ian and Muhammad and family men, married with children.
For each of them, religion is a big part of their life. Ian is a Protestant Christian, and Muhammad is a Muslim. Both regularly join with others of their own faith for prayer.
Dark-skinned with a heavy accent, Mohammad stands out as being part of a cultural minority. Despite this, Mohammad says he has not experienced hateful racial discrimination since coming to Australia – in fact his experience here in the Valley has been quite the opposite. He singled out the beauty of nature and the local people as being what he loved most about Australia.
“Local people here are very friendly and different [to] city people,” Mohammad said.
“Being an Australian citizen means to me [having] a secure friendly lifestyle in one [of] the most beautiful places to live,” he said of his motives to become an Australian citizen.
Ian, on the other hand, would be hard to pick as being from a different country, with no accent, and sharing the Anglo appearance of the majority of Australians. His Christian religious beliefs also fit with the majority in Australia.
“I was always going to become an Australian citizen. My folks were naturalised when I was 20. But I’ve never seen myself as not being Australian,” he said.
Like Mohammad, Ian said he loved life in the Clarence Valley.
“I think the thing I love most is the freedom. I went to Indonesia last year for a trip with our store … how the people live there in an eye-opener, the squalor people live in. In Australia we’ve got so much, and there is a need to do more for other people,” Ian said.
Mohammad and Ian are among four Clarence residents to become full Australian citizens on Australia Day, January 26.