Chinese-Irish mum wants to encourage greater understanding across cultures
2017-07-18 10:31:13 -
By Chinedu Onyejelem

A Chinese-Irish stay-at-home mum says she wants to encourage cross-cultural understanding and collaboration across Ireland.

“I hope to do more work in promoting immigrant integration and to preserve the welcoming and friendly nature of Irish people by engaging with local groups [and the new Irish],” says Tian Yu Lloyd, who adds that she is “proactive politically and I hope to influence policies.”

Tian, who left Hangzhou in 2002 to further her education in Ireland and now holds a degree in retail and services management as well as a postgraduate diploma in accountancy from DIT, says it is important for Ireland to accept that it is now a country of diverse cultures.

“The political system should cop on with the situation and immigrants should be allowed to participate in decision making.”

Tian says life in Ireland has been relatively smooth for her, which she attributes to both hard work and good luck. But she has also faced her share of challenges, such as when the economic crisis in 2008 forced her to quit a trainee position with PwC.

In the meantime, Tian decided to stay at home to look after her partner’s son, and she and her husband had a child together, a girl, in 2010.

Five years on, Tian was beginning to think about her career again “but I didn’t know what to do”. The catalyst was her burgeoning interest in politics. 

“The election was coming [in February 2016] so I got involved in promoting Irish politics among the Chinese community,” she says. 

And that led to even more engagement. “I did a course in politics over a few months; after that I started volunteering with City of Sanctuary Dublin.” 

As secretary of voluntary network that ‘aims to challenge misinformation, dispel stereotypes and myths, and break barriers by bringing people together’, Tian has been involved in numerous community initiatives, including a Chinese-Syrian soccer match earlier this year.

While many immigrants in Ireland claim negative treatment, Tian says her experiences here have been “mostly positive – especially the people, in general, are friendly.”

She adds: “I experience very little racism here. My friends from China, Brazil and other South American countries in general feel more positive and we think the society does not tolerate racism.”

Tian believes she has integrated well, and not only because her husband is native Irish. “I don’t differentiate Irish people with myself that much anymore. My closest friends are Irish and other nationalities.”

However, Tian admits that “Irish people do have more negative impressions about Africans.” 

That’s something she attributes to a perception that Africans and other immigrants abuse the social welfare system – when the reality, she argues, is that successive Governments have failed to implement positive policies and programmes for welfare and immigration.

For example, she says that before her own child was born and she was a stepmom to her husband’s son, she had no contact from Social Protection.

“When I had my own child, I started receiving letters – not for my stepson but for my daughter,” she recalls. 

“The systemic discrimination hurts me deeply. Such discrimination could have easily been avoided if they linked child benefit to the school, where it can be verified if the child is here or not.”

TAGS : Tian Yu Lloyd Chinese-Irish
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