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Photograph, John Owens.

I came to Australia in August 1998 from Santiago in Chile with my father, mother and brother. We left Chile because jobs there are badly paid and people are very poor. My father worked 12-hour days as a machinist for only a small amount of money. Our relatives in Melbourne told us that the situation was very different and that school and study options for myself and my brother were also much better.

As we flew into Melbourne we were looking at the view from the aeroplane and we were surprised, happy and excited by what we saw. We were also very excited to see my relatives who we hadnít seen for 13 years.

We came to live in Clayton South because my relatives told us that Westall Secondary College, and particularly the Westall Language Centre were really good schools. I am in my final year of school.

I like living in Clayton South because it is quiet and very close to my school but I find people here are not as friendly as in my country. I donít know my neighbours and I donít even know their names or which country they come from.

The biggest problem I had when I arrived was learning English. The only English words I knew were ĎI love youí, Ďpencilí, Ďpení, Ďrulerí and Ďrubberí and I didnít know which was a pen and which was a pencil.

I feel sad when I start to talk about Chile. I miss my language and I have found it very difficult to learn so many new things. I have had to learn how to speak, write and talk about my feelings. Itís like being born again.

In Chile I was one of the best students in my school but here I am not. In Chile I could do most things without help but here I have to ask for help and I donít like that. I like to be able to do things myself.

I tried to learn English quickly because I like to talk a lot. At school I donít fit in very well because I donít want to speak to many people. I am scared to speak because I think I am going to say something wrong or that the people I am speaking to are not going to understand what I am saying. Some of the students donít care if somebody cannot speak English. They annoy me and tell me not to talk to them because I donít know how to speak English or that I will not be able to do my homework.

My friends at school come from Ethiopia and Somalia and they also cannot speak English very well. I love these people because they are so friendly and helpful, just like my friends in Chile.

In my Spanish school on Saturday mornings I have a lot of friends and I feel more comfortable there. I can talk in Spanish and joke with my friends and this makes me very happy.

My parents cannot speak very much English and my father cannot find a job in his profession and is working as a cleaner. He is trying to find full-time work so that he can save some money to buy a home for us.

In Chile I dreamt about working in the air force or in the police but here English is difficult and I am not sure what I will do. I also love gardening and farming and I love working with animals. I have many dreams, which I hope will come true one day.

Article Cat. Blended Voices
Article Ref. 146

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