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A refugee’s culinary quest

14 August 20140 comments

Nyanthuk_webA young woman who fled war-torn Sudan just three years ago with little English and almost no schooling is now on her way to realising her dream of becoming a chef.

After completing the AMES Youth Program, Nyanthuk Chol has embarked on her long-cherished ambition to become a chef and is enrolled in a Certificate III cookery course at the William Angliss Institute.

“I love food and I enjoy cooking so I’m really happy to be at William Angliss,” said Nyanthuk, who came to Australia in 2011 at age 17 to be reunited with her father.

“In Sudan it was very hard at school; we had a lot of problems. We would be able to study for two or three months but then we would stop because of the conflict.

“Also, some of the time we were too scared to go to school because the teachers would beat us. We would be caned if we got something wrong,” she said.

Despite her experiences in Sudan, Nyanthuk took it upon herself to front up at AMES and enrol in the organisation’s Youth Program.

“It’s not the same here. It’s good to study at AMES, the teachers are very friendly and that’s nice,” she said.

Nyanthuk said that through AMES she had made friends and established connections in the community.

“I came to AMES and had an interview with Jenny (AMES Education Co-ordinator Jenny Leahy); she was just about the first person I met here.

“After a term, AMES put us into youth classes which were really good because we were people of the same age and we could get to know each other and make friends,” said Nyanthuk, who lives at St Albans in Melbourne’s west.

She said that apart from learning English, AMES had helped her understand how things worked in Australia, learn about Melbourne, help her make friends and embrace other cultures.

“We did all sorts of activities like football, tennis, bowling and badminton. We also went camping to Mt Buller. That was great – I love bushwalking.

“And I’m staying in contact with my classmates through Facebook. Sometimes we meet up and have fun,” Nyanthuk said.

She said she spoke no English when she arrived in Australia.

“I couldn’t understand anything when I first came here. But I never missed a class and now I’m studying cooking and hospitality,” Nyanthuk said.

She said her AMES counsellors helped her to decide how and where to study cookery and hospitality and helped her with the William Angliss application.

“My teachers helped me apply for the course at William Angliss and they helped me to prepare for the interview,” the 20-year-old said.

Nyanthuk studies from 8.30am to 5.30pm four days a week and eventually wants to work in a restaurant or hotel kitchens before opening her own business.

“I’ve always wanted to be a chef and now I’m on my way. I would like to thank all my teachers at AMES and I would recommend to anyone in a situation like mine to come to AMES and do the youth program,” she said.