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Volunteer and student are a perfect match

24 May 2024

In recognition of Volunteer Week, we celebrate our volunteer Alan, a retired electronic engineer who has found enjoyment and community connection through volunteering as an English tutor.

Alan looked for ways to integrate into the local community when he moved from Melbourne to Ballarat. An accomplished individual, Alan is currently studying classical music composition and is actively involved in various local organizations, including the Ballarat East Community Men’s Shed, Ballarat East Community House, Ballarat BREAZE & Repair Cafe, Ballarat Scenic Cyclists, Ballarat Art Gallery, and Ballarat Mechanics Institute.

He found out about English tutoring at a volunteering expo in Ballarat. Alan explained that he, ‘had some empathy for language students as he had lived in France & Italy for some years and failed at learning the languages. I understood the isolation, embarrassment, limitations and frustrations.’

Alan was matched with a student as a part of the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP). AMEP is funded by the Department of Home Affairs to provide free English language classes and training to eligible migrants and refugees. The AMEP Volunteer Tutor Scheme helps people to learn the English they need to settle successfully in Australia.

Alan’s student Ping Li is originally from China and a retired engineer like Alan. Ping had studied English grammar and vocabulary, but was struggling to speak and communicate in English. Through working one on one with Alan, Ping has made great progress. Alan has also encouraged Ping to engage more with his local community by introducing him to a local Men’s Shed.

The experience of volunteer tutoring has been rewarding for Alan in many ways. ‘The enthusiasm and intellectual abilities of my students are truly inspiring, Alan shares. ‘I also learn so much about the English language and local culture – things I’ve taken for granted for years.’

For those considering becoming a volunteer tutor Alan offers some heartfelt advice, ‘Do it! There is nothing to be apprehensive about and you can back out if it doesn’t suit you. The potential rewards are great. You understand your community and its culture more, and you can make many new friends.’