Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gordon Mar

Gordon Mar our first guest speaker for 2014 delivered an 
enthralling talk at our January General Meeting. Gordon delivered his talk in the Ku-ring-gai Library Meeting Room that had been his First Class classroom when he was a student at Gordon Public Room over sixty years ago.

Gordon Mar at KHS

Gordon described himself as an ABC (Australian Born Chinese) as his parents migrated to this country around 1920. In his broad ranging talk "One Small Step out of the Village - The Australian-Chinese story through the eyes of one family" Gordon told of of the history of Chinese people in Australia who first arrived in the 1840s from the Canton region. He described the living conditions and prejudices they have endured and reminded us that Chinese are a hardworking, peaceful and loyal people whose culture has strong family relationships,  the Chinese  value education. Coming to Australia for these people was like taking "a giant leap to another planet".

We learnt that there are presently 700, 000 ethnic Chinese in Australia and 300, 000 in Sydney many of whom are more recent arrivals than the Mar family.

Gordon's family were merchants who ran a successful business, Wing, Sang & Company in Sydney's Haymarket for over 50 years. As in many Chinese families 

Sign from Powerhouse Museum Collection
the Mar children gained tertiary qualifications and entered various professions. Gordon, who was an accountant, took over the family firm but sold it in 1984.

During his talk that was illustrated with photographs from his collection Gordon explained various traditions from Confucianism to bound feet. His talk that was at times serious was laced with humour and jokes.

It was an excellent start to the year for our educational program at KHS.

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