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Kari pushes beyond the comfort zone

Kari and her dog

Kari was a stay-at-home mother of two and domestic carer with Japanese being the predominant language spoken at home. She knew some English having lived in USA for a short while but in her words, ‘American’s didn’t understand my English, and ever since then I avoid English speakers’. Once her youngest daughter started school, Kari overcame her fear of new places and decided to venture into an EAL class run by a neighbourhood house in her local area. Then she came into Farnham Street Neighbourhood Learning Centre’s Initial Pathways program in 2014.

Kari has a quiet and unassuming personality but holds excellent qualities for learning. She is a diligent worker but most of all, she is able to recognise her personal barriers and constantly pushes herself out of her comfort zone. ‘I dislike to throw myself to be in a group situation because of my nature and language disadvantage’. But she challenges herself to improve herself. ‘I try to join into the conversations in my daughter’s competition times or my craft club when I can.’

Another societal barrier she notes, ‘In my culture, we don’t look directly into others’ eyes while we talk. I always remind myself to see people’s eyes and after many presentations in EAL classes, I improved in this in the group situation but it’s still difficult one to one. So this year I continue by joining Speak Out and in this class, we have to look into people’s eyes, so I may still improve in this.’

Kari is open to try anything to help her improve personally, academically and socially.

Since starting in 2014, Kari worked hard and finally succeeded in completing the Certificate EAL IV (Access) qualification in 2017.

Unfortunately at this time Kari’s marriage broke down and she became a single parent with full responsibility for her two school-aged children. Due to the associated pressures but to keep her learning ongoing, she undertook several FSNLC’s pre-accredited courses over the next years: Language and Literacy for Employability, Job Talk, and Literacy for Further Learning. In addition she also took up several volunteer positions: an education support person in the EAL classrooms at FSNLC and in a local primary school, and in multiple volunteer Japanese-related positions as librarian, tutor, craft teacher, LOTE teacher support – all in various Japanese schools or community organisations.

This led Kari to undertake and successfully complete the Certificate IV in Education Support at Victoria University in 2018. Now in 2019, she still attends one pre-accredited class a week based on drama techniques to continue to improve her self-confidence in speaking in English and in her overall quiet demeanor. In addition, Kari still maintains her volunteer work at FSNLC, commenced as a volunteer education support worker in Japanese classes years P-6 and commenced an online course to extend her knowledge and skills in Japanese grammar.

Kari is currently undertaking a Japanese grammar course online and when asked why, she explained that it was to refine her knowledge around Japanese and online because it was cheaper and could be done around all her volunteer positions, part-time pet-care work that she does for some minimal income and her daughters’ needs. Her current study aim is to understand and learn the skills to be able to teach Japanese to primary school aged children right up to adults. The scholarship funds would go towards a course that would enable her to move from being an education support worker in Japanese learning domains to that of a tutor.

In Kari’s own words, ‘When I became single, I was almost 50 without any career experience. I studied education support, but I noticed qualifications don’t gain experience much. I wanted to study further, but fees were too expensive and someone told me I would just gain in age while I study and I needed work. Also I found a volunteer work as a Japanese teachers’ assistant. Now I’m corresponding studying Japanese language to gain my knowledge while I also volunteer in a few facilities and work as a pet carer, so I can one day become a tutor as my main job.’