"I know what it’s like to be a newcomer in a different place. When I first moved to Australia it was very hard to break into social circles: I try to be welcoming when people arrive at our tennis club for example. I make a point of chatting to them, and invite them to join our table when we have a drink later. That sort of thing. I think being on the other side does make you more understanding.
When we lived in South Korea we mixed mainly with expats, but I got a part time job and that was an opportunity to get to know Korean people better as work colleagues. It was a real turning point for me being able to get to know Koreans a little bit. It’s such a big cultural divide over there it’s difficult because you would never get invited into their homes as most of them live in tiny weeny apartments and multi-generationally too.
Something that is very commonplace in countries such as India and Korea is bonding over a meal. In the Western cultures, there is a lot of having dinners on the run, or in front of the telly, which I think is where family interaction can be lost. It’s where the telling of stories takes place, and with families becoming more scattered now, those opportunities to sit down can be are few and far between. I really think they are to be treasured and more should be done to make them happen."