From the Philippines to Alice Springs: Sherry achieved her goals with STEPS

Moving to a new country can be difficult – navigating a new culture, not knowing the language, missing home and family – it can be a lot to deal with.

Sherry Haynes knows this, she has experienced it and she found with time and the right support you can build connections and achieve your goals.

Ms Haynes has built a new life she loves but it took time to build.

Ms Haynes grew up on her family’s rice farm in the Philippines and after marrying her Australian husband in 2014, she moved to Australia.

Leaving her parents and four siblings in her home country, Ms Haynes started to make a new life with her husband in Alice Springs.

However, in a new country and culture, it took a while for Ms Haynes to get settled.

She said she experienced some challenges that were common among new Australians.

After arriving in Australia, Ms Haynes was unable to work because she was traveling on a tourist visa and finding employment was something she wanted to do.

“I can still remember how sad I was for those six months because I couldn’t work and had no friends,” Ms Haynes said.

“Living in a new environment with no friends to talk to – except my husband – and not being able to communicate properly because of the language barrier was really hard,” she said.

Unable to connect with others, Ms Haynes said she began to miss home.

“Feeling homesick is the major struggle of many when they’re migrating to other countries,” she said.

With the support of her husband, making friends through volunteering, and building her English skills in the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) at STEPS Education and Training, Ms Haynes has thrived and now loves her new home.

“Now, I have lots of friends to talk to and feel very comfortable in speaking and using the language,” she said.

Ms Haynes was able to focus on building her language skills at STEPS AMEP, a course that provides over 500 hours of free English lessons and support from trained tutors.

“I made the right decision to attend English language class with AMEP, I have met the people who have been helping me with my studies and helped me to bring back my confidence.”

When Ms Haynes found work with a local school and Camp Australia, she could continue her language classes at night at STEPS AMEP.

She said she is glad she began taking night classes and is so thankful to the staff for all their help and support.

It was in the classroom where Ms Haynes met STEPS AMEP Trainer Jennifer Lopes – someone who had a big impact on Ms Haynes.

“I am truly thankful that my lecturer, Jennifer Lopes, has helped me to achieve what I wanted to achieve.

“She’s not only a lecturer but also a mentor for all of us in the evening class,” she said.

Ms Haynes said Ms Lopes encouraged her to apply for the role she really wanted: a teaching assistant position at Living Waters Lutheran School.

Ms Haynes said she initially lacked confidence but with Ms Lopes’ support she was successful and received a job offer.

“They interviewed me in November last year, it was an amazing experience and less than 30 minutes after the interview I got the job,“ she said.

Ms Haynes said she enjoys her new job and the people she works with.

“I can say that I am in the right workplace, the community is very welcoming, supportive and very pleasant to work with,” she said.

Now that she has the language skills and confidence, Ms Haynes has set her sights on furthering her education and is planning to gain a Certificate IV in Education Support.

If you would like to learn or increase your skills in English, STEPS AMEP can deliver up to 510 hours of free English lessons and provide support from qualified trainers. Call 1300 585 868 to find out more.

The Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

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