Amonrad Girdbandid came to Australia from Thailand in 2007 but returning to study at the Deakin University Warrnambool Campus in 2016 has given her a second chance to feel at home in her new country.
Ms Girdbandid studied political science in her native Thailand and turned her hand to cooking after arriving in Warrnambool and undertaking a course at South West TAFE.
But at age 52 she’s gone back to study, not only in the hope of finding a new career but to become more closely connected with the local community.
At the end of her first year of study in the Associate Degree of Arts, Ms Girdbandid is learning skills that will hopefully help her to move on to further study and a new career, and has also significantly improved her English communication skills.
While she enjoys her work as a chef at the Hotel Warrnambool, Ms Girdbandid would like to try something new.
“I’m getting older and it’s hard to stand all day and work in such a busy environment,” she said.
“Plus I want to use my brain a bit more. It is challenging for me, but it’s never too late to try.”
Ms Girdbandid would like to consider work options where she cares for people, possibly as a police officer, and plans to continue studying, potentially for a Bachelor degree in Health Sciences.
She admits her limited English skills have been a drawback but the course has helped. “It has helped with my English; I feel more confident now when talking with people.”
“In the classroom we work in groups and share ideas and this has helped me to fit in,” Ms Girdbandid said. “I’ve learnt what student life is like in Australia and I have friends and teachers to help. If I don’t know something, now I can ask for help.”
Lecturer and course director, Dr Emma Charlton, has been working with Amonrad for most of the year.
‘I have loved seeing Amonrad grow over this year,” Dr Charlton said. “Coming to a new place is challenging for everyone, and this challenge can be increased when you speak a different language than the majority of those around you. Amonrad has brought so much to the learning spaces, and it’s been great to see how education opens doors and minds.”
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