In 2015 George was offered an opportunity of a lifetime. The Solomon Islands based fitting and turning teacher was selected by his employer, Solomon Islands National University (SINU) to study abroad at TAFE Queensland.
During the four years that George spent at TAFE Queensland he worked extremely hard to successfully complete not one, but four qualifications: a Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade (MEM30205), Certificate IV in Engineering (MEM40105), Diploma of Engineering (MEM50212), and an Advanced Diploma of Engineering (MEM60112).
George said that it was an honour and a privilege to have been selected to study abroad and that he had always dreamed of furthering his education.
“For the first six months it was hard because I am so connected to my family and used to having them around me. It was difficult for me being in a different country; the culture, the environment and how things are done are so different," he said.
The initiative which was supported by a Solomon Island’s government grant focused on staff development aimed to upskill current educators to higher level qualifications to benefit teachers, students and the larger community.
George’s engineering teacher, Joe Naidoo, said that as a mature-aged student who had many years of industry experience, George made a large contribution to the class.
“Coming from a trade background, George knew a lot about mechanical engineering so he was a huge benefit to the other students; he was able to relate what was being taught to his work experience and provide the class with real-world examples," Joe said.
“I think George not only benefited by what was taught throughout the advanced diploma but also how we taught at TAFE Queensland," he continued.
"Coming from a teaching position at SINU, George was able to study both the course materials as well as learning the delivery method taught at TAFE and can now take this knowledge back to his classroom teachings in the Solomon Islands.”
After having settled in Australia for some time, George also took the opportunity to bring his youngest daughter to Australia where she completed a year of high school. This was important to George as she was able to experience first hand what it was like to live and study outside of the Solomon Islands.
George’s eldest son, Leslie, also came to study at TAFE Queensland, completing a Diploma of Sport Development (SIS50612). He has now gone on to graduate studies in sports management, an accomplishment that George is very proud of.
Now George is looking forward to returning to his position at SINU where he can utilise his new vocational qualifications to help others. He encourages other mature-aged students to consider studying abroad but warns that you do need to be prepared to work.
“You need to work hard and study smart. You have to be conscious about what your intent and purpose is because there are so many things that can distract you. So you have to keep focused and get the work done,” he said.