October 27, 2010 § 4 Comments
So last night I attended my first training session at a local AMES centre, which provides all kinds of services to newly arrived immigrants and refugees in Australia. Since February I have been applying to offer my services as a volunteer for a number of projects which I thought were perfect for me (local art gallery, community art centre etc.) BUT the only place to call me back for an interview was AMES because apparently that’s the biggest issue of concern for the people living in my community..teaching English to refugees. Well, actually it is not so much of a concern of the people in the community..it is more of an issue of integration and inclusion on behalf of the local government. All the people with the refugee background that I know not only don’t want to learn English..in fact they more than often vocal their concerns that in Australia their children will only speak English and not their mother tongue. I understand and sympathize with them..but I also believe that in order to function independently in the society one must have at least functional level of proficiency to speak/read/understand English. One should at least be able to make an emergency phone call to a nurse/doctor/police etc.
I met a lot of interesting people at the training session, very lovely and enthusiastic. We all have one thing in common..we all want to contribute to our local community and help others. During the session I came across some interesting statistics like 75% of refugees who can’t understand English at all are females. This is quite understandable because refugees generally come from countries which promote and propagate gender discrimination.. hence women are not allowed to pursue education. Most of these refugee women had very little schooling in their home country. I also found out that 50% volunteers in Australia are between the age of 25-50. And 50% of volunteers have fulltime employment.
I am looking forward to my next training session, and then eventually volunteering to teach English to a refugee woman in my community..hopefully empowering her to live a more independent life in Australia.