I often try to put myself in her shoes. She is surrounded by a strange language. She is fenced in by foreign culture. She is faced with unfamiliar people. It would not be an easy journey. Some days she must feel it would be easier to throw in the towel and return 'home', but she reminds herself of why she is here.
Helping settle new Aussies
As I walk into the home of my English student each week, I am greeted with optimistic exuberance, an abundance of hospitality and someone with a deep desire to learn. I admire how, despite the obstacles, she is determined to make a better life for her family. I have never experienced migrating to a new land but from what I can understand, it is not smooth sailing.
I have recently trained to be a tutor in English for migrants and I love the concept of being able to gain insight into their experiences and journey a little with them as they learn to master a new language. It's not only about the language learning, but about having a safe place to make mistakes and to have a familiar face in the midst of an alien world.
In my role I often think about how I can be more effective in helping newly arrived people in our country. In the whole scheme of things I feel fairly useless and lacking so much knowledge. Learning English is only a part of the journey.
Having not experienced it myself, I do not know how someone who has just landed on our shores may be feeling. But I was born and raised in Australia. I can and I want to welcome and support our new friends settling into this country.
A few helpful tips
I have narrowed my thoughts into a few points to try to make sense of my role and how I can be a useful and meaningful person in their lives, while at the same time, not being overwhelmed by their situation. These are self-explanatory and essential.
- Be flexible—time, place and expectations can be varying concepts.
- Be ready to laugh together—no, there is no AFL team called the 'Koalas' that I am aware of!!
- Be open to new ideas—there are other ways, thoughts, options and theories to learn.
- Be respectful—our culture is not the 'right' one.
Jesus understood how it felt to be the stranger, to live without the security of a home and be reliant upon the hospitality of strangers. Many of us will know how that feels, and some of us won't. Whoever it is, wherever they are from, show them love and acceptance as you would do for Jesus if He walked into your town.
'Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony' (Colossians Chapter 3, Verse 14).
Laura Veloso is wife to John and the mother of 3 young boys. She is trained in child welfare and primary school teaching and has experience in overseas missions and youth leadership.
Laura Veloso's archive of articles may be viewed atwww.pressserviceinternational.org/laura-veloso.html