“I came from Afghanistan as a refugee with my parents, four brothers and three sisters. When I arrived, I was placed into Year 7 at intermediate school. I had no English at all and couldn’t understand anything. The other kids would say, ‘Hi,’ to me and I’d say, ‘Hi,’ back but that was all I could say. I think the other children thought I was a little strange.”
Rahilah took English as a Second Language (ESOL) classes throughout intermediate and secondary school. She worked hard and could soon talk
easily with her friends. Having seen how medical staff had been able to help others during hard times in her homeland she dreamed of becoming a nurse.
So, as soon as she finished school, she applied for the nursing course at Unitec
but was disappointed.
“Becoming a nurse is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember but when I went to enrol at Unitec, they told me my English and Maths were not good enough. I was upset but determined. They recommended Visionwest’s ILN [Intensive Literacy and Numeracy] course as an answer to my need.
“When I went to Visionwest, the first person I met was Evelyn. She was amazing. I was so nervous, but she was lovely and took lots of time to explain things to me and made me feel good. Since then, she’s been my teacher and I’m so grateful to have someone like her helping me achieve my dream.”
Rahilah talks about the ILN course participants as being like a family. For her, it’s more than simply learning English and Maths. The course has enabled her to learn many other skills that will help her continue to fit into life in New Zealand and equip her for studying and working here.
“I feel like I’ve made such great advances in my English and Maths. I’ll be reapplying for nursing at the end of next month and I feel quite confident about getting in this time.
“Now, if I meet someone who needs help improving their English, I do not hesitate to say, ‘Go to Visionwest. It’s a lovely place and you learn so much. Even if your English is no good when you start, it’ll be good when you finish.”