Dream of Martha: Redefining Myself through Migration Journey in Australia

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Martha Weruing, CX designer based in Western Australia. Source: Personal Documentation.

Migrating to a new country indeed a big decision in one’s life. However, migrating may also bring valuable lessons. In this article, Martha Weruing, a CX Designer from the Western Australia, shares her experiences coping with new environment that helps her to redefine herself.

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Hello everyone! My name is Martha Weruing. Weruing is a family name of Lamaholot, an ethnic group from East Flores, Indonesia. Currently, I am working as a CX designer in the Western Australia tourism industry while preparing to build my business with my husband in Indonesia. 

I have been living in Perth, Western Australia, for seven years, and I don’t think I’m leaving Perth anytime soon. While I have enjoyed building my career here, I am also interested in volunteering in several organisations that share my goals and values. In my free time, I love to travel around Western Australia with my husband and beloved dog in our rooftop tent.

We love to spend our time in nature. Often we camp in a place without a phone signal. At first, it was hard to spend a day without signals, but then it became a habit to clear our minds and enjoy the present. Now, I must say that I am adept at managing interaction with social media.

A family picture of Martha. Sourcee: Personal Documentation.

Moreover, now I am active in two voluntary activities. The first one is on the humanitarian settlement program for the Australian Red Cross.  My role there is to welcome refugees that have no experience or basic understanding of how to live in Australia. For example, I have to teach them how to use smart cards to travel with our public transportation. 

It is quite challenging as most of them come from the Middle East or Africa and do not speak English, so we rely on our native volunteers as translators. Second, I participate in the Rescue Dog Organisation to take care of dogs, the animal that I love the most. I feel a sense of contentment in doing voluntary work. 

Travelling with purpose: A valuable lesson from a remote area of Indonesia.

I have been an avid traveller before I moved to Australia. I love to travel while making an impact on society. When I was in Indonesia, I casually travelled to some remote areas in Indonesia such as South Halmahera, Rote Island, or some parts of Kalimantan not only for travelling but also for teaching. 

At that time, I thought I was the one that would inspire them to achieve their dream and change their life. Nonetheless, I was wrong. I was the one who got inspired by their sincerity. 

Volunteering in South Halmahera, North Maluku, Indonesia. Source: Personal Documentation

Although the local community lives under poverty, they always serve the guests as best as they could. Also, I met teachers that were willing to teach in such a place passionately.   

Meanwhile in the big city, I have witnessed that many people do not have that level of sincerity. I became more grateful with my life as I realised that what is easy for us to find everyday, would be luxury goods for the villagers. 

For example, one time I taught the students in Tabuji village, South Halmahera, about organic waste, and how to process leftover apples as organic waste. But then, I found that the students never had an apple before, and it would be so expensive to get the apples due to the transportations costs.   

Sharing with students in South Halmahera, North Maluku, Indonesia. Source: Personal Documentation.

People in the remote area of Indonesia have taught me a valuable lesson. Their sincerity and humbleness are priceless. It has inspired me to give back to society and that is why I have always wanted to be a volunteer and help people whenever I have the chance. 

Martha with her students from South Halmahera, North Maluku, Indonesia. Source: Personal Documentation

New chapter in Australia: Rediscover passion.

Although I had a settled and fulfilled life back in Indonesia,  I consider my migration experience as another meaningful journey that has shaped me to who I am today. It has started with a challenge of obtaining an Australia Partner Visa. Previously, I had a Working Holiday Visa (WHV) as one of the requirements for a DeFacto Visa (one of Australia Partner Visa). It was very hard for me to continue my career here in Australia as the holder of a WHV is permitted to do casual work only, and only six months for each employer. Previously I have worked in the oil and gas sector in Indonesia, so I thought I could expand my career here in Australia.

Unfortunately, I could not do that with my WHV so in my first year, I took multiple casual jobs such as cleaning service in an apartment, shopkeeper in a Kebab shop, and also a babysitter.

Martha shared her story of how the pandemic was an opportunity to change her approach to establishing herself in her new home on Backstories Festival 2021 in Perth, Australia. Source: Personal Documentation.

It was truly out of my expectations, and the situation was exacerbated by the fact that I had to adjust with my new home and culture shock. Therefore, I decided to find a new challenge that eventually led to my new career. 

Also, I felt like I needed something more than passion. I need a purpose. When I was much younger, I had a dream to be a graphic designer. However at that time and in Indonesian context, working as graphic designer was perceived as a not promising job. 

So after saving some money, I took another degree in graphic design and finished it. However, passion alone isn’t enough, that’s when I learned about Human-Centered Design during my final year study, which led me to my current role, CX & UX Designer.

CX Designer (often referred to as a Service Designer) is a unique hybrid of User Experience and Customer Success. It’s combined Design Thinking, human behaviour, business analysis and visual design, to create a better interaction between customers and the brand in many different touch points.

Lessons from being a migrant 

My migration experience was indeed a turning point of my life. I have several takeaways and new perspectives from this experience. 

First, I realised that life does not always go according to plan. Therefore, I have learnt how essential it is to maintain our expectations. As I have mentioned, I was settled as I had a good life back in Indonesia. I had a good career and I was surrounded by my family and great friends. 

In Australia, I started everything from zero, including changing my career. I decided to change my career in my 30s and at the university where I studied graphic design, my classmates are way younger than me. Sometimes I felt like I am my classmates’ mom, as most of them are teenagers. 

This also brought me to the second lesson, I learnt how to be humble as I have met people that are smarter and better than me regardless of their age.  Nevertheless, it was the best decision of my life as I finally found my passion and purpose. I learnt that if you really want something in your life, you need to start and believe that you are never too old to start.

Martha on her graduation day. Source: Personal Documentation.

Third, I realised that it is essential to be authentic. Although Perth is my new home now, Indonesia is irreplaceable and it stays in my heart. Indeed, no place can replace home. 

Moving to Australia has changed how I define a sense of belonging. In my first or two years living in Australia, I tried so hard to be accepted by the community by changing the way I speak or the way I joke. However, I felt uncomfortable in the end just like I am losing my true self.  

Then I jumped into the conclusion that the right way to apply a sense of belonging is just by keeping my identity and being comfortable just by being myself. Now, I am proud to be myself and show my true identity.

Martha performing traditional dance from Indonesia. Source: Personal Documentation.

Fourth, my career change has helped me to unlearn my old perspective in defining success for women. Previously, I thought that being an independent woman requires a settled job and ambition. 

An independent woman should be busy so she needs to hire someone to help her in daily housework. But moving to Australia as I had to do everything by myself, I learnt that doing houseworks needs exceptional management skills. I began to appreciate everyone’s choice, whether on being a career woman or full time mom.

Lastly, I learnt that nothing is impossible in terms of manifesting our dream, regardless of gender. There is no such expiry time to catch our dream. We have to dream high. If it is not high enough, you have no idea how far you can fly. Following your dream is a solid statement, but it should be followed by a rigid plan and willingness to work hard to achieve our dream.

ABOUT

Martha is a proud Indonesian and an immigrant to Australia with a creative mind living the dream through design, culture and travel. She is a designer with CaLD background and has lived in few countries. In her free time, Martha would like to go for a road trip around Western Australia in her Ute + RTT and enjoy some great books, while actively contributing to the multicultural fabric of Australia as an Indonesian traditional dancer and cultural activist.

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