English | Myanmarese

Laura Williams.jpg

My dad was born in England and my mum is from Burma (Myanmar), she moved when she was 4 years old. Her dad was in the Burmese Navy and says he escaped the Navy to England to later bring his family over. It’s unclear why my mother’s family moved from Burma, as they had a pretty privileged lifestyle in Burma, due to my Grandfather's Navy status. My mum has never returned to Burma, since moving to  England and cannot speak Burmese, she identified herself as British.
I was born in England - now I would say half Burmese and half English, if you had asked me that 10 years ago, I would have said English I was ashamed to identify my mother's nationality, and I didn’t want to have to explain why I looked different.
I grew up Harrow, it was always considered a ‘multicultural’ area. I never really understood why because the majority of my school was from the UK. Most of my school friends were English and their parents were from the UK. Maybe 10% of my school was from another nationality other than Great Britain and I had like a couple of friends in my friendship group that were mixed race.
I’ve had quite a few experiences that really highlight myself as being from a different culture. Recently I felt targeted during a creative course I did with my half sister - who looks quite different from me. She has red hair, green eyes and fair skin. We were sitting next to each other in this course and the course leader went round the room and said, “where is everyone from?”. She pointed to two girls and said, “well I know those girls are from Asia, these girls here are from here” (meaning the UK). Then the lady looked in my direction and said “well... you look like you have travelled from farther afield.” I just remember looking at my sister and being quite shocked by that comment. I naturally just laughed even though it felt like someone had just slapped me in the face in front of a room full of people. I replied with a cockney accent to her nah!!! I’m from LONDON!!! For me it was my way of showing that I didn’t care for the comment or her poor choice of words.