Today we hear from Anne Dixon who co-ordinates English conversation classes for Mandarin speaking members of the community at Mitcham Baptist Church in Melbourne. Leaders within the the Mandarin congregation identified that some of their community were isolated from neighbours and local social interactions as a result of being unable to participate in English conversations. The John Wallis Foundation funded resources for English language Conversation classes in 2017, which have continued successfully into 2018. Their success is in great measure based on the generous volunteers who give such care, attention and lots of time one on one to the attendees.
Below is an excerpt from Anne Dixon’s progress report to us on the “Conversation @ Mitcham Project:
…..Our morning begins with a whole group session where we talk briefly about a topic. We have also encouraged some of our students to introduce themselves to the class. This is quite difficult for them but their confidence has improved so much. After this we have morning tea then break into small 1-1 groups with a student and an English tutor. We are blessed to have a great number of our church members who have volunteered to help us.
This student (above) is Anna. When she first came she was very shy about speaking. In August she spoke to the whole group. While her grammar may not have been perfect she said,
“When I first come…came to Australia I very lonely because I don’t speak English but now my lovely teacher Joan help me and I not lonely now.”
She is a young mother whose son is at school and she has no family in Australia. She now says she has a big family as we are her Australian family. At the end of August we had a dinner together and invited all their families. Anna’s husband and son came and her husband thanked us for helping Anna so much. We love her. She is such a delight to have in our group.
This is Andrew. He is a painter and when he talked to us he shared his painting with us. He is 79!
The lady on the right is our oldest student. She is 91. She really comes so her daughter can come but she makes a point of going to bed early on Wednesday nights so she is ready to some every Thursday morning. She may not learn a lot of English but she loves the fellowship and building relationships with us. Thanks again John Wallis Foundation for your generous support.
Words by Anne Dixon – Mitcham Baptist Church Community Member.