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Volunteering to make a difference

TAFE Queensland joins the rest of Australia in celebrating International Volunteer Day on December 5th, honouring the countless volunteers who make significant contributions throughout Australia. Among these volunteers is Laura Lombardozzi, who is volunteering in the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) and has played a particularly crucial role in assisting AMEP student Maryna.

The AMEP is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs and supports migrants and refugees with free English language training tailored for life in Australia. In Queensland, the AMEP is delivered by TAFE Queensland.

Laura has had the opportunity to travel to numerous parts of the world, and she is immensely grateful for the opportunities she's had growing up in Australia. After volunteering for an NGO in Cambodia for three months in 2015,

Laura was eager to find a way to continue her volunteer work back at home but found it difficult due to working full-time. However, Laura returned to studying after giving birth to her first daughter. During this time, she came across TAFE's call for volunteers to assist with the Adult Migrant English Program.

 “I have always loved talking to people from other countries, and I know what it is like to be in another country without the ability to communicate. Being a volunteer tutor is a small way that I can help to make Australia a friendlier and more welcoming place.”   

Maryna's journey with her family in 2021 from Ukraine to Mackay presented her with numerous obstacles, one of which was finding a suitable childcare placement for her daughter. This challenge prevented her from attending English language lessons.

However, the connection with Laura, an AMEP Volunteer Tutor, proved to be a game-changer. The two were able to meet and began practising socialising and communicating in English while their children played together.

“My time with Laura is amazing. She speaks with me clear English, so I understand her really well. She gave me a lot of advice about how I can spend time with my toddler in Mackay and many beautiful locations around the city.”

Laura's decision to become a volunteer tutor not only allowed her to fulfil her desire to help people from other countries with their settlement but also transformed the life of Maryna and her family.

Through their weekly meetings, these two mothers formed a friendship while improving Maryna’s English language skills and having fun along the way.

“It has been a joy to get to know Maryna and her daughter over the past six months. We catch up almost every week and chat while our kids run around and play - whether it be at the library, playground, a playgroup, or the botanical gardens.”

The Volunteer Tutor Program assists AMEP students in improving their English language skills for work, further study, and everyday activities. Volunteers are provided free training and matched with AMEP students and can then organise a time and place to meet up outside the classroom.

“I am glad to be able to help in some small way in welcoming new people to our beautiful country, and I am fortunate to have made a wonderful friend in Maryna.”