how i make it work... NGAI­IRE JOSEPH

THE SINGER CAN FEEL CAUGHT BE­TWEEN TWO CUL­TURES AF­TER EM­I­GRAT­ING FROM PA­PUA NEW GUINEA TO AUS­TRALIA AS A TEENAGER. BUT THAT DOESN’T STOP HER ED­U­CAT­ING OTH­ERS ABOUT HER MOTHERLAND THROUGH MUSIC

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Stellar Travel - stel­lar picks as told to Stephanie Squadrito Ngai­ire will per­form at Tedxsyd­ney 2017 on June 16; tedxsyd­ney.com.

Ihad a very gritty child­hood. My par­ents are both aca­demics so we were al­ways well off, but we still faced the re­al­i­ties of life in a de­vel­op­ing na­tion. When I moved to NSW’S Lis­more with my mother and two younger sib­lings at age 16 in 2000, I was ex­cited. But I had no idea how long it would take to fit in.

At first it was hard be­cause school here is very clique-y. I wore baggy clothes; I didn’t shave my legs. I quickly re­alised I looked dif­fer­ent to ev­ery­one else. Then I found music. I started do­ing music classes at school, which I hadn’t had the op­tion to do be­fore. My first day in class was so in­cred­i­ble and mind­blow­ing be­cause there were so many gen­res I had never heard. I was like a kid in a candy store. That re­ally helped me through the tran­si­tion

As I’ve got­ten older, it feels like I’m caught be­tween two worlds in a dif­fer­ent way to when I moved here. I’ve adapted in a way that I don’t feel com­pletely Pa­pua New Guinean and I don’t feel com­pletely Aus­tralian. Now that I’m en­gaged, I think about how I would want to raise my chil­dren. Do I want them to ex­pe­ri­ence what it’s like to have a tribe around them? How Western do I want them to be? There are all these ques­tions.

A lot of peo­ple are fas­ci­nated by where I come from, con­stantly ask­ing me what it was like to live there. They’ll say, “Do you miss PNG? Do you guys still eat peo­ple there?” It makes me re­alise how un­in­formed Aus­tralians are about their clos­est neigh­bour.

I haven’t writ­ten any songs yet about my ex­pe­ri­ences as an im­mi­grant, but my next al­bum is go­ing to touch on it. I re­cently trav­elled back to cre­ate vis­ual con­tent for the record. I want to cel­e­brate PNG’S beauty, and hope I can make peo­ple think dif­fer­ently about the coun­try, in the same way Ri­hanna has done for Barbados or M.I.A. has done for Sri Lanka.

I of­ten won­der what life would be like for me if I never left. I prob­a­bly would have fol­lowed in my par­ents’ foot­steps and done some­thing in sci­ence. I would have been mar­ried with kids by now, but also more con­nected to my cul­ture. You al­ways want what you don’t have, but I have an in­cred­i­ble life here and I get to do what I love do­ing. It’s a catch 22.

WATCH Rachel Weisz stars in the dark ro­mance . In cin­e­mas on June 8.

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