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Nasrin Zaher is the winner of the inaugural Deakin University-Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture Indonesian Language Teacher of the Year Award.
Nasrin Zaher was born in Afghanistan and came to Australia when she was 14 years old. She had to learn English when she arrived and chose to study Indonesian in high school. In addition, Nasrin is a fluent speaker of Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and Farsi and majored in Arabic and Indonesian when she was an undergraduate at Deakin University.
One of the turning points in Nasrin’s study that eventually led to her career choice as an Indonesian language teacher came when she won a scholarship to spend six weeks in Indonesia when she was in Year 11. Her interest in Indonesian became a passion for the language, culture and people of Indonesia.
Soon after graduation from Deakin, Nasrin was hired as an Indonesian language teacher at Norwood Secondary College where she has been working for nine years. She is an exemplary teacher who mixes classroom teaching with activities that take advantage of technology including social media that can connect her students with students at a sister school in Jakarta. She dedicates a lot of her free time to providing help and support for VCE classes. Her passion and dedication instil similar attitudes in her students. One of the biggest challenges LOTE teachers face in Australia is how to generate genuine interest in the language such that students will continue their language study beyond Year 10 when LOTE is no longer required. In her nine years at Norwood Secondary College, Nasrin has always had an Indonesian VCE class. In 2011, 90% of her VCE students continued their study of Indonesian at tertiary level. Additionally, many of her students have returned to the College after graduation to talk to current students about how much the study of Indonesian has meant to them.
Perhaps one of Nasrin’s greatest achievements came last year when Norwood Secondary College was considering dropping Indonesian from its curriculum. She immediately lobbied the College’s administrators, its Council and the community and argued for the continuation of Indonesian. This resulted in the cancellation of the plan to drop the language from the curriculum. Those who are familiar with the difficulties languages, and especially Indonesian, face in Australia, can appreciate the effort involved in changing the mind of the College administration and the school community.
Nasrin is more than an excellent, dedicated and successful teacher of Indonesian. She is also a passionate and effective advocate for the language. She is a worthy recipient of the inaugural Deakin University-Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture Indonesian Language Teacher of the Year Award and will no doubt continue her efforts in the future.
L-R Dr Rebecca Fanany, Senior Lecturer in Indonesian; A/Prof Ismet Fanany, Director, CTALC; Professor Jane den Hollander, Vice-Chancellor Deakin University; Nasrin Zaher; HE Primo Alui Joelianto, Indonesian Ambassador to Australia; Professor Muliar Kasim, Indonesian Deputy Education Minister