A Migrant’s Token Gesture

Initial struggles of migrants are not unknown to the public. Armed with educational qualifications from overseas, a heart full of dreams and determination, migrants arrive on foreign soil to create an identity of their own. Sixteen years ago, I was one of them. Setting foot on Sydney soil also known as the Land of Opportunity, I was confident, like thousands and thousands of migrants, that the city, which looked inviting and promising, would change my future in remarkable ways.  Reality, a rival of Fantasy, wasted no time in warning me that my life as a newly arrived migrant was not going to be a bed of roses. Qualifications that were valued overseas were yet to gain its significance and often those degrees were validated only with the attainment of an Australian tertiary qualification.

Varied immigrant communities entertained the belief that government jobs offered a stability and security to a transient life. In search of stability and security, I attempted a few City Rail tests for different positions including Transit Officers, most of which I had passed and made it to the next stage. Call it clueless or daring, I even made it in the written test for the position of Correctional Officer and qualified for a free tour of Villawood Detention Centre where in I had the opportunity to participate in a group discussion which was the next stage to the written test. By then, I was also pursuing my career in the field of education by obtaining enrolment for the ‘Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education’ course at University of Technology Sydney, Kuring-Gai campus and would like to believe in vain that the university move had precipitated the rejections I encountered for the above-mentioned positions even though I made it to the interview for a few positions.

During those confused days, I willed myself to approach Canterbury-Bankstown Migrant Resource Centre, Campsie for further assistance. I was inspired by self-less work of Mr. Miguel Ferrero and the staff of this non-profit community-based organisation. Being an honest gentleman, Miguel struggled to guide me in my job-hunting process without dampening my enthusiasm. I had the tendency to attach every single certificate of achievement I had from overseas for an advertised position, whether relevant or irrelevant, in the hope that it would stand me in good stead. With an expression of concern on his face and by narrowing his gaze through his glasses, he used to emphasise that I would be a suitable candidate for any position if only I trained myself to attach the necessary qualifications with the applications. I found his advice valuable and he acknowledged my skills. Realising that I was well versed in a few Indian languages and had the added advantage of English language being my main area of specialisation, he showed no reluctance in asking me for help. I involved myself with the activities that took place at the resource centre whenever I could find time.    

,On a significant day, during one of those ideas brainstorming session, I came up with the idea of a job club for newly arrived migrants. Miguel thought it was a brilliant idea and named me the co-founder of Naukiri Sahayata or job club. On the successful completion of my tertiary qualification, like Miguel had prophesied, I obtained employment as a casual teacher at Robert Townson High School, Raby and that put an end to my active involvement with the activities at the resource centre. My relationship with Miguel ( mentor) and the resource centre ended when I moved houses to Ingleburn by the end of 2005. I did not follow through to find out if the Job club or Nuakiri Sahayatha initiative was a huge success, but I would like to conclude by highlighting that it was my token gesture as a migrant.  

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