The following account was given to the museum, as part of the forthcoming community exhibition with the Multicultural Friendship Association.  We will be sharing more stories with you over the next few months.  Many thanks to Triliria and other participating members of the Multicultural Friendship Association.

I was born in East Java, Indonesia. I have been married to an English man for the last 28 years. I have 3 boys, twin boys (my older sons) and a youngest. The twins were born in Indonesia and my younger boy born in Bristol. We moved to England in the summer of 1999 when the children were under 6 years old. When we moved to England, my children could not speak very much English; they only understood and spoke a few words of the language. I also didn’t use English much in Indonesia after I left my job as a Senior Secretary for eight years before I got married. By the time we moved here, I realised I could not speak and understand English as much as I thought I did. In my mind at that time I wondered how I could help my children study if I could not speak English fluently. I knew my husband could help the children, but as a Mum, I felt that was not right because many children will seek and ask help automatically from their mum.

With these fears I decided to go to college to study English at Weston College in September 1999 with other students from around the world. The first year I attended twice a week, but still did not improve a lot. I motivated myself to study and to socialise with English people to improve my English. The first and the second years were very hard, I missed my family in Indonesia a lot and the help from my family. I felt very lonely and frustrated but I knew I should stand on my own two feet. I started everything from the beginning again, for example driving a car. I had to take an exam again to have a British driving licence, and that’s not easy. Luckily I passed straightaway for my theory test, but for my practical exam. I took it twice and the third time I passed.

I found everything not easy at all, but I got through it all to make life much better. I got a job as a dinner lady at a secondary school. I enjoyed the job, all the teachers were very nice and polite, but at that time a couple of incidents happened with the children when I looked after them during lunch. Because I had just come from a completely different culture I could not accept the behaviour of some of the children. One day a group of children just teased us and annoyed a couple of dinner ladies, so I told the senior teacher about it and he asked the children to apologise to us which they did in writing. Then I found later on that the children had serious problems at home and at school as well. I could see from that their hand writing and spelling was very poor for their age. As a result, I began to think that I should help them in the area of their weakness but I could not do anything at that time because of the limitation of my English as well as my profession. So I decided to start from basic or foundation level to build my confidence.

I applied for a job as a School Meal Supervisory Assistant or Dinner Lady in a first school in May 2000 and I worked there for four and half years, so I felt confident working with the children. Because English is my Second Language, I took courses at Weston College like English, Business English, Computer, Childcare & Play work assistant; all of which improved my confidence in many aspects of working with children.

As a SMSA at the First School, I knew a little bit more about what the primary school & it’s staff want to achieve for their pupils. I then decided to volunteer to help in Year 1 and Year 2 classes which I enjoyed very much. Because I liked working with children, I registered and started on the first step childcare course and then my tutor recommended me to go to a higher level (childcare NVQ level 3), but I decided to take Teaching Assistant NVQ level 2 instead which I obtained in July 2004. The skills which I have further developed at school and Weston College helped me look for a better job.

In November 2004 I started a new job as a Pre-School Assistant at Churchill Pre-school which I enjoyed very much. The Leader planned for me to take a course in September at Weston College to gain my NVQ Level 3 in Foundation Stage for Pre-School which I was looking forward for it but instead I took Children’s Care, Learning and Development, NVQ level 3 at Weston College. I also attended Four Days Evening Course for Makaton Foundation run by Makaton Vocabulary Development Project, Surrey. I took 10 weeks course for CACHE level 3 in option 2 – Working with children with disabilities and special educational needs and their families in Pre-school setting as well at that time.

Because of my course that I was taking I had to find a school which provides for education from baby unit until pre-school that’s when I applied for placement at the Green Umbrella voluntarily, but only for a few months the Manager decided to employ me as a part – time Nursery Nurse Practitioner. I was so happy working there. It’s a very good Pre-school and Nursery, they had a very good grade from Ofsted because they employed very skillful and committed staff and provide some activities in different developments, have plenty of spaces to explore and had a great environment for the children, their staff and parents as well. Children learnt so much from it, as staff and the management worked together to make sure that the children were happy and proud that they were doing well on a daily basis at the nursery. And NOW I could see and met some of them are success and want to be a Lawyer, business people, an artist, teacher, electrician etc. So I am happy after all, as my boys also doing well with their education as well as their attitude, manner and behaviour.

T. Newbury (Mrs.)