MHI Team Leader shares her reflections on studying English in Melbourne, Australia

Monday 26/11/18

In 2018 MHI Team Leader, Nelinha Pereira received a scholarship to study English in Melbourne, Australia for 10 weeks. The scholarship was awarded by Matadalan Ba Malu, a scholarship program established for women from Timor Leste who display outstanding community-mindedness and leadership. At the end of Nelinha's three-month stay in Melbourne, she shares with us her new insights as she reflects on her experience.

Reflection report from MHI Team Leader, Nelinha Pereira

I am Nelinha Pereira. I living in a small town which is far away from Dili, the capital city of Timor-Leste. My town, Lospalos, is 220 kilometres from Dili and takes us about 5-6 hours by public transportation, such as buses. I am working with a small International Organisation, Many Hands International. I have been working with Many Hands International for 6 years. I first started my career with Many Hands International as an administration and finance officer and sometimes as a translator and interpreter for English to Tetum and Tetum to English. In 2015 I was promoted to Team Leader. This new role was hard for me at first but also challenged me to do more to develop my capacity in administration, management, finance and other duties as a Team Leader. Many Hands International has a very strong team. The organisation is run by local people from Lospalos and receives very strong support from Australian volunteers, who founded Many Hands International.

As Team Leader with limited English language skills and growing Team Leader skills, I always push myself, and encourage self-learning. There are many ways to learn new skills such as through people who I meet every day and through the international people who work with Many Hands International. We are also so lucky now days to live in the modern era, in fact we have very good internet that can provide many learning resources. I  spend time visiting websites to read articles and get some positive point to use in my work as an Team Leader and also articles about English language. To illustrate, I have accessed an online English course and it’s very helpful to increasing my English level. The founders of Many Hands International and other volunteers work very hard to find good ways for our team to develop our capacity. In fact, they found a good way for me through Matadalan ba Malu (M. B. M ). Matadalan ba Malu was established to facilitate English language scholarship for woman from Timor-Leste. The program targets women working within a community context or local organisation in Timor-Leste and who would benefit from high quality English training and the experience of across-cultural exchange in Melbourne Australia.

The 10th of September 2018 was my first day to start my English course at RMIT English World Wide, in Melbourne, Australia. It’s was an exciting day for me because I feel it was a good start for me to improve my English. However, in the first week I felt strange and it felt difficult. My class had 13 students from 4 different countries, Indonesia, China, Saudi Arabia and Timor-Leste, The highest number of students in my class were from China. It felt strange and difficult because I was the only one form Timor-Leste and because most of my classmates speak Chinese all the time. This made it difficult to make a new friend because the course had just started for a week and everyone did not yet have a good relation. In the next 2 weeks, I felt everything starting to go well and I tried to do my best. I tried to encourage myself and remind myself why I am here and I tried to learn and understand my classmates different cultures, different skills and different characters. 

Study English in RMIT English World Wide in Melbourne Australia was my first time to study English in formal way. I had always learned English by myself with the internet helps and reading some English book such as grammar books. I also want to report that it’s my fist time to go overseas for a long period of time and also my first time to leave my little family (my husband and my little boy). It was very hard for me to leave my family, furthermore I feel leaving them for a while to studying English and learn new experiences and new cultures will not just bring a positive change for myself, such as the new skills and new experiences from Australia, but I am sure that it can bring positive change to my home town through the organisation I work with and positive change for my family too. To illustrate, if my English and cross cultural understanding  is good I can transfer this to the children in my community and also I can teach my kids. While I am in Melbourne-Australia I was not just studying English. I sometimes visited places around Melbourne. I saw an art performance from the aboriginal culture and I visited the National Victoria Gallery, organised by RMIT University as part of a student excursion. I also visited Bendigo Art Gallery. Furthermore, I did an internship at Box Hill Community Art Centre. I learned how the government supports their community, how the community shares their knowledge to the young generation. In addition, I have learned about different cultures from the places I have visited and from people that I met while in Melbourne. I have learned about different lifestyles and cultures from different people from different country, which I have new views. The other different way I learned through these new experiences was when I stayed with different family while I was in Melbourne Australia. I stayed with several families that all of course had very different lifestyles and different cultures to Timor-Leste. All of these new experiences and learnings I am sure will be useful for my life, my family and my community in the future.  

Studying English takes time. While studying English at RMIT English World Wide was only a 10 weeks intensive for me it was a good start and a good guide for me to continue studying English. What I am going to do after I go back to my country is I will contribute my skills and my new experiences thought Many Hands International and I think this English course will be very useful for my career.

Finally, on behalf of my family I want to say thank you very much to Dr. Kim Dunphy as my sponsor. She has kindly provided her house as my homestay and was responsible for my living allowance and responsible for my flight expenses and my public transport cost everyday through the Myki card. Also on behalf of Many Hands International I want to say thank you very to Mata Dalan Ba Malu who work very hard to give opportunity to women from Timor-Leste to develop their capacity in 10 weeks intensive English course in RMIT English World Wide. Also very proudly on behalf of my country and Timorese women, I want to thank you Many Hands team and Mata Dalan Ba Malu team.  

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