Tiffany with the Laidlaws

I Am Lucky Enough to Meet Them

Looking back on my journey, there were many difficulties, but there was also lots of happiness thanks to the love and generosity of my Australian family.

Story by Tiffany Ko. Edited by Melaina Dyck
Taiwan, Eastern Asia
Published on May 30, 2021

Reading time: 4 minutes

This story is also available in tr



When was a turning point in your life?

For me, it was when I first came to Melbourne, Australia.

At age 16, I saw a poster in my high school about Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE). RYE sponsors high school students to study abroad for one year. My school was seeking a student to represent our school in the RYE program My teacher recommended me because I was always ranked top of all the students in English class. Her recommendation gave me confidence to apply.

After a complicated application process, I was accepted to study in Melbourne, Australia. On July 23, 2014, I flew from Taoyuan International Airport (Taiwan), leaving my hometown by myself for the first time. I was full of excitement, looking forward to my new life in Australia. Although I had good grades, I spoke little English and did not know much about Australia, but I was more excited than scared because I was finally released from the Asian-style education that I was sick of.

My host family, the Laidlaws, made me fall in love with Australia. They accepted me for who I was and treated me like a part of their family. Our home in Melbourne was beautiful with a big yard and a colourful garden. My host dad, Andy, is a garden designer. He liked to show me around his precious garden, including his plum trees. One of my favourite things was going to the plum trees after school and picking beautiful plums to put in my mouth. I loved hearing the stories from Andy about his plants.

I enjoyed helping my host mum, Sarah, with dinner and talking with her. She was a good listener. I also enjoyed the running-up-to-the-hill workout with my host sisters, Phoebe and Jessie.  Phoebe was my best friend; we always had a good laugh. Green grass, warm breezes, cows and horses, beautiful nature and lovely people: All these small things brought me simple happiness.

I love my Australian family. They gave me the family love I had never experienced.

I am an only-child from a single-parent family with a busy mum. I went to school, did homework, and ate dinner by myself.  I had no one to talk with about my day. Before I went to Australia, I was an unhappy, lonely Taiwanese student hating exams and studying and the expectations of being “a good student.” I was like most Taiwanese students—striving to get grades but not knowing why. The only thing I knew was that I would get more attention from my mum if I did well in my exams. In Taiwan’s education system, students are defined by their grades. They lose themselves and lack confidence and social ability. In Melbourne, I took classes I did not have in Taiwan, including drama, project design, and poetry. After school, I had the evenings for family or sports, instead of constantly studying.

When I returned to Taiwan, I missed Australia a lot. In February 2016, I started my bachelor’s degree at the University of Queensland in Brisbane.

Life is an ongoing journey, with many ups and downs. My life didn’t just switch to be all good because I moved to Australia. However, when I think about the Laidlaw family, I know I was the lucky one. The Laidlaw family loved me beyond our language barriers and cultural differences. Through hugs, picnics, and bike rides, I saw the beautiful scenery of Australia and the loving hearts of people. They gave ordinary me extraordinary love. For that, I am beyond grateful. 


How does this story make you feel?

Follow us on Social Media

Talk about this Story

Please enable cookies to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter

Stay up to date with new stories on Correspondents of the World by subscribing to our monthly newsletter:

* indicates required

Tiffany Ko

Tiffany Ko

Hello. I am from Taiwan, born in 1997. I graduated from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. I have lived in Taipei, Melbourne, Brisbane and Seoul. I enjoy learning new cultures and languages. Lots of people know me as a Taekwondo addict and friends know me as a minion lover, but I would say I am a freedom chaser, a dreamer, and a self-seeker.

Topic: Migration

> South Korea
Connecting with People through Calligraphy

A story by Choi Lucia

Calligraphy for me has opened, quite literally, another world.

> Read More


Fortunat Miarintsoa Andrianimanana
> Madagascar
Every Passport Has A Story

A story by Fortunat Miarintsoa Andrianimanana

Despite this huge unfairness, because nobody chooses a particular passport at birth, some people have to go through it.

> Read More


> Norway
Dialogue with Refugees in Norway

A story by Lene Mortensen

Anti-refugee politics is on the rise all over the world, but we can counter this trend by daring to ask questions and get to know those who are being spoken about.

> Read More


Get involved

At Correspondents of the World, we want to contribute to a better understanding of one another in a world that seems to get smaller by the day - but somehow neglects to bring people closer together as well. We think that one of the most frequent reasons for misunderstanding and unnecessarily heated debates is that we don't really understand how each of us is affected differently by global issues.

Our aim is to change that with every personal story we share.

Share Your Story

Community Worldwide

Correspondents of the World is not just this website, but also a great community of people from all over the world. While face-to-face meetings are difficult at the moment, our Facebook Community Group is THE place to be to meet other people invested in Correspondents of the World. We are currently running a series of online-tea talks to get to know each other better.

Join Our Community

EXPLORE TOPIC Migration

> Iran
I Wish Home Was a Better Place to Live In

A story by Noosha

Immigration is difficult. Being away from family and friends, learning a new language and always being a second-class citizen (especially if you are from the Middle East). And if you get old, starting again from nothing.

> Read More

Or read it in de es kr

> Turkey
So Far No Matter How Close

A story by Merve Vardarli

Throughout years migration has become the epicenter of our lives. What does it mean to become an immigrant?

> Read More

Or read it in de kr

Fortunat Miarintsoa Andrianimanana
> Madagascar
Every Passport Has A Story

A story by Fortunat Miarintsoa Andrianimanana

Despite this huge unfairness, because nobody chooses a particular passport at birth, some people have to go through it.

> Read More

Or read it in de es tr

> South Korea
An Alien From the Same Planet

A story by Veronica Burgstaller

It has to be remembered that through all these moving places, I stayed the same person, I had my Austrian passport, I was half Austrian and half Indonesian: yet in Indonesia, I may have been an expat, in England an immigrant, in Korea - a constant struggle to become somewhat included. It is clear that the power as to who I am is not in my hands.

> Read More

Or read it in de kr tr

> Norway
Dialogue with Refugees in Norway

A story by Lene Mortensen

Anti-refugee politics is on the rise all over the world, but we can counter this trend by daring to ask questions and get to know those who are being spoken about.

> Read More

Or read it in de es tr

> Chile
Being a Migrant in Chile

A story by Juan Carlos Pérez Jerez

To be an immigrant in Chile means that you migrate all day, every day.

> Read More

Or read it in es ir

Global Issues Through Local Eyes

We are Correspondents of the World, an online platform where people from all over the world share their personal stories in relation to global development. We try to collect stories from people of all ages and genders, people with different social and religious backgrounds and people with all kinds of political opinions in order to get a fuller picture of what is going on behind the big news.

Our Correspondents

At Correspondents of the World we invite everyone to share their own story. This means we don't have professional writers or skilled interviewers. We believe that this approach offers a whole new perspective on topics we normally only read about in the news - if at all.

Share Your Story

Our Editors

We acknowledge that the stories we collect will necessarily be biased. But so is news. Believing in the power of the narrative, our growing team of awesome editors helps correspondents to make sure that their story is strictly about their personal experience - and let that speak for itself.

Become an Editor

Vision

At Correspondents of the World, we want to contribute to a better understanding of one another in a world that seems to get smaller by the day - but somehow neglects to bring people closer together as well. We think that one of the most frequent reasons for misunderstanding and unnecessarily heated debates is that we don't really understand how each of us is affected differently by global issues.

Our aim is to change that with every personal story we share.

View Our Full Vision & Mission Statement

Topics

We believe in quality over quantity. To give ourselves a focus, we started out to collect personal stories that relate to our correspondents' experiences with six different global topics. However, these topics were selected to increase the likelihood that the stories of different correspondents will cover the same issues and therefore illuminate these issues from different perspectives - and not to exclude any stories. If you have a personal story relating to a global issue that's not covered by our topics, please still reach out to us! We definitely have some blind spots and are happy to revise our focus and introduce new topics at any point in time. 

Environment

Discussions about the environment often center on grim, impersonal figures. Among the numbers and warnings, it is easy to forget that all of these statistics actually also affect us - in very different ways. We believe that in order to understand the immensity of environmental topics and global climate change, we need the personal stories of our correspondents.

Gender and Sexuality

Gender is the assumption of a "normal". Unmet expectations of what is normal are a world-wide cause for violence. We hope that the stories of our correspondents will help us to better understand the effects of global developments related to gender and sexuality, and to reveal outdated concepts that have been reinforced for centuries.

Migration

Our correspondents write about migration because it is a deeply personal topic that is often dehumanized. People quickly become foreigners, refugees - a "they". But: we have always been migrating, and we always will. For millions of different reasons. By sharing personal stories about migration, we hope to re-humanize this global topic.

Liberation

We want to support the demand for justice by spotlighting the personal stories of people who seek liberation in all its different forms. Our correspondents share their individual experiences in creating equality. We hope that for some this will be an encouragement to continue their own struggle against inequality and oppression - and for some an encouragement to get involved.

Education

Say hello to our newest focus topic: Education!

Corona Virus

2020 is a year different from others before - not least because of the Corona pandemic. The worldwide spread of a highly contagious virus is something that affects all of us in very different ways. To get a better picture of how the pandemic's plethora of explicit and implicit consequences influences our everyday life, we share lockdown stories from correspondents all over the world.

Growing Fast

Although we started just over a year ago, Correspondents of the World has a quickly growing community of correspondents - and a dedicated team of editors, translators and country managers.

64

Correspondents

72

Stories

39

Countries

175

Translations

Contact

Correspondents of the World is as much a community as an online platform. Please feel free to contact us for whatever reason!

Message Us

Message on WhatsApp

Call Us

Joost: +31 6 30273938