Wednesday, May 6, 2015

G'Day Mate!

About a week ago we got a call from Gold Coast city council, asking if one of us would like to say a few words (1-2 minutes) at the citizenship ceremony. Such an opportunity to embarrass my kids could not be missed - I took it. 

Here is my speech, delivered today at Gold Coast Arts Centre to an audience of a few hundred people:

Ahem, I've been practising this for months... All right, let's see how I go.... Good day? G'Day! :-)

This is a strange moment in our lives: to become a citizen of another country. We had different experiences leading to this day. We had different reasons to migrate. Some of us, maybe most of us, came here, primarily because their partners or parents wanted to come here. Some of us will eventually go back... :-( As Ned Kelly allegedly said just before being hanged - "such is life".

I am one of those husbands/parents who dragged his family here. I was born in Poland. I was quite happy there as a child, but when I became an adult I realised that it was a rather cold and often gloomy place. In Poland heating is usually on for 9 out of 12 months. In autumn and winter the sun is often hidden behind clouds for weeks. The average number of sunshine hours in Warsaw in December is 25. 25 hours for 31 days. That's about 48 minutes per day. If you spend most of your day in the office, you are lucky to see the sun at all in December. Is it any wonder, that I started dreaming about Australia? :-)

But, it did not happen right away. We tried our luck elsewhere first. We moved to Ireland. That was a few years before Poland joined the European Union and thousands of Poles invaded the Emerald Isle. Sorry Ireland. :-) Ireland is a beautiful country, but it is quite cold. We went back to Poland after one year.

A few years later we moved to Florida. It was our second home away from home. Florida's nickname is sunshine state, just like Queensland's. We lived there comfortably for 6 years. But money is not everything. In pursuit of happiness we left the land of the free.

As the saying goes: third time lucky. So here we are today, in the lucky country - Australia, taking on responsibilities of citizenship.

Thank you.

With Tom Tate - Mayor of Gold Coast