STEPS AMEP Student Diary: Sherry Haynes

STEPS AMEP student Sherry Haynes has got the right job and a supportive community. But it wasn’t easy at first, moving to a new country and communicating in a different language can be difficult. Sherry moved from the Philippines to make a new life in Alice Springs and wanted to share her experience to help others who are new to Australia.

What was your life like before you moved to Australia?

I am from the Philippines and I’m the third child of Mr. Celestino Santos and Mrs. Dolores Santos. I have three sisters and a younger brother. My father was a farmer and a driver. Farming is the main industry where I grew up. We used to have a rice farm, but because my siblings and I were all going to school my parents had to sell our farm for us to continue our studies. Now that we are all grown up; I am very proud that my parents let us finish our studies up to college.

Why did you move to Australia?

After I got married to my Australian husband in November 2014, I flew to Australia through a tourist visa for 3 months and went back to the Philippines for 2 months. The next year I came back with a 6- month tourist visa and then we decided to apply for a partner visa before my visa expired.

Did you have any challenges after moving to Alice Springs?

I can still remember how sad I was for those 6 months because I couldn’t work and had no friends. Feeling homesick is the major struggle of many when they’re migrating to other countries, including me. 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.

But those days are over now, I am loving my new home now. My husband really helped me to meet new friends here. Now, I have lots of friends to talk to and feel very comfortable in speaking and using the language. Also, I have a driver’s license now, so that gives me more independence.

How did you overcome your challenges with isolation?

During my tourist visa I did volunteer work at the Salvation Army Thrift Shop. I did it because I wanted to enhance my communication skills and be more confident in speaking the language. Also, I wanted to meet other Filipino people and widen my social group.

When I got my bridging visa, which allowed me to work, I was fortunate enough to get a job at St. Philips College as a cleaner. While working at St. Philips, I also worked in an after-school care program and my employer was Camp Australia.

Can you describe your experience with STEPS AMEP?

I am really glad that I made the right decision to attend English language class with STEPS AMEP. At first, I was attending with my three friends but due to their circumstances, they are no longer attending class. That didn’t stop me continuing my study here.

Here, I have met the people who have been helping me with my studies and helped me to bring back my confidence. 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. We are very blessed to get full support from the people at STEPS AMEP. I would like to say thank you to Jennifer, Lisa (our tutors) and Philip (the manager) for all their help.

What achievement are you most proud of since moving to Australia?

The start of this year has been very good to me. I got the job that I’ve been wanting, and I thought I would never achieve this because I was lacking confidence. Through the encouragement and help of Jennifer I was convinced to submit an application. When they interviewed me in November last year, it was an amazing experience and less than 30 minutes after the interview I got the job. Now, I am enjoying my new job. Although I am still getting used to how things work but the people there are very helpful to me. I can say that I am in the right working place, the community are very welcoming, supportive and very pleasant to work with.

What’s next for you?

Right now, I am working to get my qualification to be assessed by the Skills Recognition Centre – hopefully I will get that. Also, I am planning to study towards a Certificate IV in Education Support.


If you would like to further build your English language skills, STEPS AMEP can help. We have classes in Alice Springs, Palmerston and Casuarina. Call 08 8950 7600 to find out more about classes in Alice Springs and 1300 585 868 for classes in Palmerston and Casuarina.


The Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) is funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs

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