Creating and Presenting

The focus in this area of study is on reading and writing and their interconnection. Students will read and view a range of texts (including the film 'Skin' and selected short stories from 'Growing Up Asian in Australia'), in order to identify, discuss and analyse ideas and/or arguments associated with identity and belonging. They will reflect on the ideas and/or arguments suggested by these texts, explore the relationship between purpose, form, audience and language, and examine the choices made by authors in order to construct meaning. Students will then draw on the ideas and/or arguments they have gained from the texts studied to construct their own texts.

Key knowledge

• the relationship between purpose, form, language and audience in a range of print, non-print and multimodal text types, with close attention to authors’ choices of specific structures and features; for example, style, images, design, point of view, tone and register;
• the ideas and/or arguments relevant to the chosen Context, including an understanding of the ideas and arguments presented in selected text/s;
• strategies for creating, reviewing and editing;
• the conventions of spelling, punctuation and syntax of Standard Australian English.

Key skills

• analyse the relationship between purpose, form and audience in a range of text types, with close attention to authors’ choices of structures and features;
• select and shape information, ideas and argument appropriate to the chosen form, audience, purpose and context;
• draw on ideas and/or arguments presented in selected text/s;
• use appropriate strategies to review and edit texts for fluency and coherence;
• use the conventions of spelling, punctuation and syntax of Standard Australian English.

Week 1 Lesson 1

LI: Gain an awareness and understanding of the different elements that contribute to our sense of identity and belonging and to express this awareness and understanding in writing.

Activity: Copy the following identity map into your EAL book. Fill out the map with your own information. Use the map as a basis for writing a letter to your EAL teacher introducing yourself, which answers the questions: who am I? and where do I belong?

Due: End of W1


Introduction to Identity and Belonging

What is Identity and Belonging?
An identity is who or what a person or thing is. Your identity defines who you are. It is a self-representation of your interests, relationships, social activity and much more. Our sense of identity and belonging is impacted by various factors, including our experiences, relationships, and our environment. The journey to find identity and belonging can often be a struggle, since we ask ourselves, ‘who am I?’ vs. ‘who do others want me to be?’ and ‘where do I belong? Where do I fit in?’ This point in our lives is completely subjective, meaning that it is our personal view that influences our decisions. The issue of identity and belonging has encompassed humans for many generations, and will remain a key turning point for many to come.

What is an identity?
Identity is multi-faceted, meaning that a combination of many traits forms one identity. An identity can be defined as anything, depending on what you wish others to perceive and also how others wish to perceive you. Listed below are some examples of ‘identities’ :
Career identity : Lawyer, nurse, environmentalist, politician
Family identity : Father, mother, older sister, nephew, cousin
Skills identity : Athletic, intelligent, leader, listener
Cultural identity : History, tradition, religion, gender, ethics
Social identity : Peer group, clique, gang, club, mob, social class
Note that people do not just possess one concrete identity. We are neither just a doctor nor an entrepreneur, but also someone who loves rock music and likes to dine out. In different situations, we may alter our identity accordingly to the environment and the people. For example, you may be lively with your primary school friends, yet more reserved and serious with your high school friends. If eg you want to fit in –may have to adapt the way you behave. This is usually due to our innate desire to belong; sacrificing or amending our identity to do so.

What is belonging?
Belonging means to feel a sense of welcome and acceptance to someone or something. As suggested by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a psychological theory centered on humans’ innate desire for fulfillment, belonging is a need that we naturally seek in order to feel loved. In the same manner as our identities, there are many forms of belonging.
Relationships : Family, friends, partner, teacher, associate, pet
Social : groups, classes, clubs, organisations, teams
Environment : Australia, America, Melbourne, Queensland, countryside, metropolitan, nature vs. man-made environments
If we fail to find a sense of belonging, isolation and depression often ensues. However, there are those who do not belong but are in fact, liberated by their independence. This may be due to their desire to rebel from family tradition, friends’ expectations or work commitment and thus, are pleased to be set-apart.

What influences identity and belonging?
Everything and everyone can influence a person’s identity and belonging. While some influences can be major, such as one’s relationship with their family, other influences may be minor, for example an incident with a friend many years ago. For different people, the same experience may have affected them to a different extent, for example, a pair of friends travelling to an art exhibition. While for one friend, the experience was exquisite and a good night out, for the other, it may have inspired them to switch careers and become an artist. Although we all live in the same world where many of our experiences overlap, the reason why we are all unique is because we ultimately choose what does or does not impact us in a crucial or unimportant way. It is through the addition of the myriad parts of our lives that come together to create our identity.

Ideas about Belonging
  • Connections to people create a sense of belonging
  • A connection to a place can create a sense of belonging
  • A sense of belonging comes through connection to groups and communities
  • A connection to the larger world is important to a sense of belonging
  • Some individuals will choose not to belong
  • Barriers in society and groups can prevent belonging
  • Belonging can have negative repercussions for the individual

Why does the struggle with identity and belonging occur?
It is a valid point to argue that everyone has struggled with their identity and belonging during a chapter of their life. There comes a time when our opinions and beliefs begin to differentiate from those around us. During this time, some people may discover where they belong, whereas many others do not. It is not solely one stage of our lives when we are confronted with an identity crisis, but a continuous challenge throughout our lives as we encounter new experiences that will alter our thoughts, emotions and perspective on ourselves.

Identity and Belonging Prompts
  • It is difficult to possess a sense of belonging when we are unsure of our own identity.
  • Our identity determines where we belong.
  • Only upon reflection can we establish our identity.
  • Mistakes help shape our identity.
  • Everyone needs to feel a sense of belonging.
  • Sometimes one may feel satisfaction if they do not belong.
  • Discovering our identity is a challenging journey.
  • Identity is never static.
  • Everyone struggles with their identity.
  • Others only see our true identity when we are confident with ourselves.
  • We possess true identity when we belong to ourselves and not others.
  • We find strength when we belong.
  • Identity is shaped by positive and negative experiences.
  • Our identity is never perfect; we must accept the good as well as the bad.
  • We know our identity when we are happy with ourselves, not how people view us.
  • Belonging relies on us forfeiting our individuality.
  • Our identity is influenced by how others view us.
  • Sometimes one’s sense of identity can cause more harm than good.
  • Our belonging is not dependent on whether others accept us, but whether we accept ourselves.
  • As long as we are confident with ourselves, then we will belong someplace.
  • Belonging can be fulfilling and difficult at the same time.
  • Belonging can trap and isolate us.
  • Some people sacrifice themselves in order to belong.

Role of relationships in identity and belonging
  • Our identity is shaped by our relationships.
  • Our sense of identity can be difficult for others to accept.
  • Belonging to one group pushes us away from another group.
  • We cannot belong to multiple groups.
  • Belonging can distort one’s identity.
  • Family and friends help us define our identity.
  • Our relationships help strengthen our identity.
  • Belonging is when people accept you for who you are.
  • Sometimes we can lose loved ones when we find our sense of identity and belonging.
  • Relationships are an important factor in our sense of belonging.
  • Who and where we belong influences our sense of identity.
  • Other people may believe they know our identity, but in reality, they may not know us at all.
  • Where we belong is influenced more by family than friends.
  • The identity of one changes with different relationships.
  • Belonging to a group involves us impressing others.

Role of environment in identity and belonging
  • One’s physical environment does not necessarily indicate that one belongs.
  • We never truly identity who we are because we are constantly shaped by our surroundings.
  • Culture is an important factor in shaping one’s identity.
  • It is only through multiple exposures to different environments that we can define our identity.
  • Humans live in a world where everything tries to make you something else.
  • It is only through a safe and supportive environment that we are free to discover our identity.
  • We can lose our identity and belonging when our environment changes.
  • We possess multiple identities when placed in different situations.

Quotes on identity and belonging
  • "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." - Mahatma Gandhi
  • "If you understood everything I said, you’d be me." – Miles Davis
  • "Who are we but the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and believe?" – Scott Turow
  • "Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I've ever known." – Chuck Palahniuk
  • "Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." – Oscar Wilde
  • “My identity might begin with the fact of my race, but it didn't, couldn't end there. At least that's what I would choose to believe." – Barack Obama
  • "At least when one speaks of oneself one is passionate, well-informed and specific." – Jan Neruda
  • "Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you." – George R.R. Martin

Learning Activities

Spotlight on You - ABS Census Data

Activity: Visit the following website, complete the downloadable worksheet and keep the PDF file in your identity and belonging folder:

Activity: Download and read the information about the local area of St. Albans. Compare it to the information you gathered from the previous activity and answer the following questions:

  • What similarities did you identify?
  • What differences did you identify?
  • Why do you think these similarities and differences occur?
  • What did you find interesting or surprising?
  • What questions did this information raise for you?
  • How might you answer them?
  • What does statistical data such as this reveal about people's identity/sense of belonging?

Activity: Multiple identities: role play
Each of us could describe ourselves as having multiple identities: as sons or daughters, as students, as members of sporting teams and so on. Belonging to families and different groups in society is an important aspect of developing and maintaining identity.
In a small group, discuss questions such as:
Do we behave differently in different contexts? Why? What influences our behaviour?
Work with a small group to prepare a group role play about the multiple identities that people juggle in their daily lives.
In the role play, you might include examples of how people often put others in categories by labelling them; about how people associate with certain groups; and how people compare groups to which they belong with other groups.


Writing in Context

Sample responses:

1. Sannie: ‘Why I didn’t let my husband see Sandra at the end.’
Sandra: ‘Why I always needed to reconnect with my mother.’
Abraham: ‘Why I cut my daughter off.’

2. Imagine Sandra’s brothers agree to reunite with her. Write the dialogue of their first encounter. Where and when will the meeting take place? What they will talk about?

1. Nature Vs. Nurture. Which is the most powerful element in determining our identity? Use examples from Skin to support your arguments.

EAL Unit 4 Outcome 2 Exploring Issues of Identity & Belonging

Jacqui Larkin
  1. 1. What assumptions does the teacher make about Jacqui’s background? In what ways is she patronizing and discriminatory? Are her assumptions racist?
  2. 2. How does Jacqui’s friendship with Jo-Ann help her to overcome feeling like an outsider?
  3. 3. Jacqui assumes that Peter probably became ‘a walking stereotype with a beer gut.’ Is she justified in thinking this? Is she also being patronizing, discriminatory or racist?
  4. 4. Does Peter’s explanation help us to understand why some people adopt racist attitudes?

Shalini Akhil
1. Why did the narrator come to realize that she could ‘never grow up to be exactly like Wonder Woman’?
2. How does her version of Wonder Woman reflect both Asian and Australian culture?

ANZAC DAY James Chong
1. What characteristics are associated with being a ‘true blue’ Australian?
2. How did the episode of ‘Lateline’ imply that James was not ‘true blue’?
3. Why do you think some people reject those who are different from themselves?

1. Who is the narrator? What advice is given to migrants?
2. How do you know Leowald is making fun of the narrator’s views on what migrants need to do to fit in?
3. What similarities and differences can you identify in this poem of your own experiences of trying to fin in somewhere?

  • Complete pp. 68 – 69 of Insight ESL for Year 12
  • Complete Chapters 9 & 10 Insight ESL for Year 12
  • Practice formS of writing for 3 prompts of your choice pp. 94 – 97 Insight ESL for Year 12
  1. Write a review of SBS Insight program Beauty Race linking it to what you have read in GUAIA.
  2. Imagine you are An Do; you have been awarded Australian of the year. Write the speech you would present about what it means to be Vietnamese-Australian (or other).
  3. Write a personal reflection on the people, places, events and experiences that have shaped your identity (use the exam exemplar as a guide).
  4. Write a series of anecdotes that trace the development of a person’s identity. This will form the basis of your speech at their 21st birthday party.
  5. Write a piece that reflects on a turning point in your life (or someone else’s), which has had a profound effect on your sense of self.

  1. Write anecdotes to explore the following propositions. The anecdote may prove or refute the proposition.
    • People prefer to accept the roles society gives them.
    • People will do anything to achieve acceptance from others.
    • People define themselves in relation to others/places/material objects (choose).
    1. Share your anecdotes with a partner. Choose the best one. Write a short persuasive piece explaining and supporting your viewpoint with examples from Skin & GUAIA.
    2. Compare your anecdote and persuasive piece. Which is the most effective in presenting your views about ID & B? Why?

Title – Author
Text type
Key message related to ID & B
Reflections / Personal Connections
Shanlini Akhil

Be Good Little Migrants
Uyen Loewold

James Chong

Five Ways to Disappoint your Vietnamese Mother
Diana Nguyen

Baked Beans & Burnt Toast
Jacqui Larkin

Alienation & Displacement as a result of migrating to a new country

Rejection and racism - and its impact on the individual

Belonging and not belonging –the need for acceptance

Culture and race and the ties that bind us to them

The Australian identity – myth or reality

Skin Quotes

  • 'What did I do wrong?' - (feeling alienated)
  • 'She's white again! Sandra, you're white!' - (being classified by decent rather than appearance)
  • 'Petrus is a black man. Dirt in this country!' - 'My wife is white. Her skin is a curse.' - (prejudice works both ways)
  • 'You can't help what you are born with but you can help what you become.' - 'No. You made your choice.' - (power of choice)
  • 'You never stop needing your parents. They're part of who you are.' - 'You only have one mother.' - (power of family relationships)