Students help out their mates

"Study Jam": Julia Lim helps Hser Ku Moo (Year 9 from Burma) with some tricky maths.
"Study Jam": Julia Lim helps Hser Ku Moo (Year 9 from Burma) with some tricky maths.

Moving to a new country can be fraught with a range of emotions.

One of the biggest challenges for new Tamworth residents is mastering the English language – becoming fluent in our unique slang, broad accents and confusing sense of humour.

Last year, Carinya student Saraswati Sarungallo resolved to do something to make a real difference. She devised a plan to create a tutorial club to work with students learning English as a second or third language and to help them complete their homework at the same time.

With the help of her mother, Rebecca, she wrote a proposal for Multicultural Tamworth. It was accepted. Tamworth Council and the library threw their support behind the program.

They call it “Study Jam”. After school and on Saturdays, migrant students receive help with school work and relationships from senior students from McCarthy, Carinya and Calrossy, assisted by a few retired teachers.

Co-ordinator Rebecca Sarungallo says: “This would not be possible if it wasn’t for the tutors. They freely offer their time, expertise, guidance and friendship.

“The program not only aids the student’s ability to complete homework tasks and improve their English skills but also fosters friendships and bonds cultural ties. As citizens of the world, we encourage our younger tutors in particular to extend a hand to others in need and to see the results of their efforts in more ways than just passing grades.

“The diversity in our students means we need to be culturally sensitive and tailor our tutoring style to meet the students’ unique education needs.”

Julia Lim is a Year 11 Calrossy student and a member of Tamworth Baptist Church. She heard about the scheme in the school notices.

“I saw it as a personal way of helping, rather than donating money,” she says. “After the stress of school, it’s good to spend time helping others.”

Tom Sarungallo says: “I’m learning two languages and I know how hard it is. When my sister said ‘Let’s tutor immigrants’, I wasn’t sure, but I felt ‘This is good’.

“I can help them socialise. One kid I used to tutor got bullied a lot at school.”

Rebecca says: “It is a privilege to be able to help others, and in turn we are all receiving an education through this opportunity. It is a fleeting moment in a person’s life that we can impact in a positive way and shift the course of their journey.

“Scripture makes it clear that God blesses us not so we can live with greed, but so we can bless others. God loves a cheerful giver. When He sees that someone is giving freely out of love, God blesses them more. We are blessed to be a blessing.”