Volunteer tutoring builds firm friendships
For Ann Nicol volunteering with AMES gives her a glimpse into diverse cultures and a chance to help people.
The retired primary school teacher has been a volunteer tutor to two young women migrants from Lebanon for the past nine months and along the way she has helped them through their first pregnancies and even assisted one get a driver’s licence.
“It’s great and rewarding. The girls want to learn English and I can give them some help with that and an opportunity to converse in English,” Ann said.
She also has developed bonds with her students Josline and Fatima, and their infant sons Bassam and Serhan.
“We have become friends and recently we shared our wedding photo albums, which was fun,” Ann said.
She said volunteering as a tutor was easier than most people think.
“It is great way to gain insight into other cultures and it’s also a way of helping people who are new to Australia,” said Ann, who is a member of a local refugee volunteer group in Alton, in Melbourne’s west.
“Each week we talk about different subjects and look at various aspects of English through reading, writing and talking,” she said.
Josline said Ann’s help with English had helped her learn the language, build her confidence and give her practical skills.
“Ann has helped me learn English to the point where now I do things in the community like go to the bank or the maternal health nurse by myself and without an interpreter because I have the confidence in myself to talk to people,” she said.
Fatima, who wants to go on to tertiary study, says she enjoys spending time with Ann.
“It is very nice to be able to talk to someone in English who is patient and understands the challenges migrants face,” she said.
Anyone wanting to know more about volunteering as a tutor with AMES can contact Volunteer Tutor Program Co-ordinator Kirsten Bardwell.