I can still remember my first day in English class here. Our teacher told us we could do whatever we wanted in Australia, as long as we really wanted it, and put in the effort. Then she asked us all, ‘What would you like to do?’ And I was just sitting and looking at her thinking: I would like to be in your place. I was so inspired by her.

I moved to Australia after getting married to my husband, who is also Russian, but had been living here for about 10 years. When I first arrived, I was desperate to find my place. And for me, that meant having a career like I had in Russia, where my Master’s degree was in Interpreting and International Relations, and I worked as a personal assistant. But even though I tried and tried to find work here, I didn’t have any luck. 

I was very lucky because I knew I was eligible for the Adult Migrant English Program at Navitas and so I was able to start two weeks after I arrived. Two months later, I moved on to the Navitas Workplace Communication for Professionals course, and that made all the difference, as they helped me to adjust my resume to local requirements. 

After that, I was able to get a really good volunteering position with the Australian Thyriod Foundation, which helped me to get some thorough experience in business administration. I also volunteered with the Adult Migrant English Program as a Home Tutor, helping newly arrived migrants, and three months later, I got a full-time paid position within the same program. 

That was when I started thinking again about how I would like to be an ESL teacher. I still didn’t have much confidence in myself, but step by step, I started feeling more like I could do it. I’m really grateful to my manager there, because she really supported my idea and advised me on the learning pathway I would need to follow.      

I went on to two other roles, first working with people with disabilities in a Community Justice program, followed by a role in International Partnerships at Western Sydney University. But finally, after five years, I decided to do my degree in TESOL. 

By that time, I was 38. Back in Russia, going to study at that age would be considered a bit insane! But not here. That’s one of the things I love about Australia – it gives you so many opportunities to find out what you’re good at. 

Now I’m a teacher at Navitas, working with students who were just like me on my first day. It’s a great chance to give back to the community, and it’s so rewarding because you have the opportunity to help people and to see immediate results. It also makes me feel that I am doing something significant with my life, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back.

These days, I feel like I’m Australian. Of course, people keep asking me where I’m from, but I just say I’m from Parramatta.

That’s how I feel now, that I belong here.



Arrived 2013

This story was brought to you by Navitas Skilled Futures. Since 1988, NSF has supported over 300,000 people to live their best lives in Australia, through the delivery of the Adult Migrant English Program and other programs. To find out more, enrol, or recommend to a friend, visit: https://bit.ly/3hA0MlF

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