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Snapshots of multicultural lives

3 June 20200 comments

A group of people newly arrived in Australia have written short pieces about aspects of their lives here in Melbourne and in their home countries as part of their English Conversation Class with AMES Australia

Volunteer tutor Kim Soekirno, who runs the class at the Melbourne Multicultural Hub, has kept in touch with her students during the COVID-19 lockdown through a WhatsApp group.

“Over this uncertain time, I have kept in contact with the students. A few of them need to practice speaking English as their pronunciation is needing lots of attention,” Kim said.

“I gave them all a task to write about themselves.  Always an easy subject. Then they were to read their story aloud to me,” she said.

“One was about day in their life back home before they arrived in Melbourne and another task was to write about a day in their life in Melbourne pre-COVID-19.

“Though some stories are short the task was very successful. It gave me such joy to have these three students complete the task, then listen to their pronunciation.

“I hope people will appreciate their efforts. It was a simple task but it was not that simple for them,” Kim said.


By Rania Dajani (Jordan)

One day at home in my country

Usually I start my day doing my exercise by walking at the beach for one hour, if I’m with my friends we stay longer to enjoy our day by swimming and sun tanning. Afterwards I go home to start cleaning, cooking or sewing until my husband comes home for dinner.

Sometimes during the day if I’m free I go out with my sister in law and other common friends for ‘capa’, which means a cup of coffee.

At night often we like going to visit our friends or they come to our house and we sit in the garden chatting or playing cards. We also may go out to a bar, or to a restaurant that has a show consisting of a belly dancer and singer on weekends.

Every weekend we arrange lunch or dinner with my husband’s brother


My best day in Melbourne

When we arrived at Melbourne airport, we saw our two kids waiting for us at the airport.

Together we all took a taxi to their flat because both of them had taken a week off work to spend time with us.   They wanted to show us many places, going to the beach, to downtown (the city) visiting China town, Hosier Lane to view the graffiti, Crown Casino, several bars and a number of shopping malls. They showed us how to use Melbourne’s transportation.

One day we went to Sovereign Hill in Ballarat and looked for gold, but I was not lucky.   We spent the whole day there and we had a good time together as a family.

The second thing that makes me happy was to visit my Aunty in an old age home. I used to be very close to my husband’s Uncle and Aunty because I lived with them for six months and they treated me like a daughter because they don’t have children.

My Aunty taught me how to cook, how to make sweets. When I saw her, I felt sad because she didn’t remember us she has Alzheimer’s, but she remembered my son as he always visits her. 


By Lesbia Centeno (Venezuela)

One day in the life of Lesbia Centeno

During the last six months in Caracas, my house became an office, in addition to my home.  My lifestyle changed a lot.  The busiest day for me was Monday because on Monday I had many activities – office work, household, time for family and friends and recreation.

The first thing I did was prepare a coffee and breakfast. I stood in front of the window in my kitchen to contemplate a very beautiful mountain called “Cerro El Avila”. At that moment I breathed deeply, spoke with God and organised mentally my plan for the day. It was a very relaxing activity before starting my day.

After breakfast (8:00 am), I am in my work studio, making various calls. The first would be to the Coordinator in charge of the Project which is the Maintenance Service for the Security System of Mint of Venezuela. We talked about the employees and various activities to do in this week. Second, I called clients to talk about the ongoing project. Finally, I called the Accountant and my Boss to report the activities done and the next activities.  I also did economic and financial studies to measure progress or replanning of the project. (I finish at noon) 

After office work, I would cook lunch. My husband and I would have lunch together.

After lunch (2:00 pm), I returned to the office work. I continued with pending activities. I made a report of the day’s activities. It would be sent to the Coordinator, Accountant and my boss. I also send emails to customers according to the requirements of the day. I thought these last activities were a bit boring but were necessary.

In the late afternoon (5:00 pm), after work was finished, I called my parents and siblings.  I also answered text messages to my friends.

Later, I went out to a cafe next to my house to have a coffee, talk to people who visited the place with the intention of clearing my head up for a while.

Compared to the other days, I thought Monday was the most dynamic day. I have really learnt a lot about time management when working from home.  Although the economic and political situation of the country removed me from my comfort zone.

I really enjoyed this time even though it wasn’t easy at all.  I learnt that life is a continuous learning.


One of my best days in Melbourne  

This was supposed to be a big step in my life!

After three months in Melbourne (end March 2019), one day I decided to go out of my house in search of knowledge on the English language. I thought at the time this is going to be a challenging job but also an exciting adventure.

Whilst having a coffee in the dining room I thought I must learn something about the society where I was living. I was aware that to do this I had to learn proper English as I only had high school standard.

I always said you have to learn English and go outside to be part of the society where you live.

I kept asking myself, How to do it? Fortunately, I saw a place near Queen Victoria Market called Multicultural Hub. Based on the name I assumed they would help the people from different cultures who coexist in this city.

Hours later, I was taking Tram Number 19 from Parkville to the City. I was very nervous, but I had to do it, for me, for my personal growth and my mental health. 

Finally, I arrived at the Multicultural Hub, I took a deep breath and nervously entered into the reception area. I had been repeating to myself about what I was going to say, I simply forgot.

I approached the girls at the reception desk and said: ‘I want to learn English. Please, I would like to attend your free English classes. Can you help me?’ I said this very slowly and several times. The girls helped me and gave me a sheet with the information. 

I was very happy. It was so incredible I was going to start English classes. 

Today, I can honestly say it was worth it, and I am aware that I have a lot to do in this new challenge of learning English as a second language. Learning never ends. 

It has been an adventure that has opened new doors to the world that until a few months ago was unknown to me. 

By Juliana Negoro (Indonesia) 

A Short Trip to Manado City, South Sulawesi

One Sunday my sister invited me to join her with her friends to visit my nieces’ home.
She lives in South Sulawesi Island, Manado City.

We travelled by aeroplane and arrived in Makassar which is the Capital City of this island. My niece picked us up from the airport and took us to her house.

Monday morning after breakfast, we went by boat spanning over 30 minutes to Bunaken.  It is the bay of Manado. Surrounded by a mountainous area.  It was an amazing place for diving and snorkelling. 

We stayed for one night. Lunch and dinner with grilled fish and very spicy salad. It was very different from my usual food. The restaurant was built on the sea and looked amazing.

Tuesday morning we went to Tomohon. It was not far from Manado. The people are known for flower planting at people’s houses and nearby are the volcanoes Mount Lokon and Mount Emping.

The view was very beautiful. Lots of flowers and veggies were grown there.
On Wednesday we prepared our luggage to go to the airport to go back home.
It was a nice trip.


My First Day in Melbourne

Remembering thirty years ago it was my first time coming to Melbourne. I travelled from Sydney by small plane with just seven passengers and then travelled from the airport to Armadale for to visit my daughter.

She was a learner in Year Nine at Presbyterian Ladies College. I was filled with great peace in Melbourne. All the shops were closed by 6pm.

Not a lot of traffic on the street – it is very different with my home town, where many shops are opened until 10pm.

But now in the city it is super busy with lots of cars and with public transport. It is easy to get anywhere.There is more specialty food from multicultural countries we can now get in restaurants or cafes.

For example Japanese Sushi, Indian Biriyani, Mexican Taco and Chinese Yum Cha are all available for us to enjoy.

After finishing my five hundred and ten hours for learning English at AMES in William Street, I am continuing to learn and improve my English at the Multicultural Hub.

In these classes I have met lots of friends from many different countries doing lots of activities.