AngelaIf you want the best Voluntary job in the world look no further than the local Ethnic Centre ! It'™s certainly the place to be, with enthusiastic friendly staff and highly motivated '˜learners'™ from all over the world.

The Thursday Afternoon conversation class this year has seen people from such diverse countries as Palestine,China,Taiwan,Japan,Korea,Columbia,Bhutan,Burma, Switzerland, the Solomon Islands, Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, India, Romania,The Congo,Sri Lanka,and Samoa..

My interest in English Second Language started in the 1980s when my husband was offered the chance of going to Japan for a year to work on a Japanese Government Scientific project in Tokyo '“ so of course I tagged along! I was very lucky to have the friendship and support of an International Women'™s Group, being pregnant in sweltering heat and 90% humidity and looking like a beached whale in comparison with the slim Japanese and Korean women is no joke, believe me ! Back to New Zealand we came, just in time as it turned out or the son might have missed out on being born in New Zealand, and he might have had some problems with passports in the future.

Prior to going to Japan I did an ESOL workshop at the Home Tutors Organisation, which was very useful in Japan and afterwards when I did some Home Tutoring especially with a young Cambodian girl who eventually trained as a nurse in Palmerston North.

Later on when living in France I was offered a voluntary job taking a group of retired Michelin workers, for English Conversation. Luckily I had done the ESOL course at IPC a few years earlier, which was a great help.

I have been working as a Public Health Nurse in Palmerston North since coming to New Zealand, so am maybe more aware of what is available in the community. For what is a relatively small town by world standards, I think we have an amazing amount of facilities. I try to encourage my Thursday group to make the most of them, and am really delighted that 2 of the group have joined the newly formed Manawatu Community Choir.

As well as Te Manawa with the Art Gallery and the Museum that are free , there are many places in town such as the Library and the Trade Aid Shop that take volunteers, .The Library also has some very good speakers, so if you know any body learning English this is a good place to just listen to different people speaking English.

I really enjoy my work at the centre, it'™s great to work with people who want to learn, but like most things it'™s a 2 way thing, and I learn a lot from my group.

Thursday afternoon is for me a glorious kaleidoscope of people from everywhere, a very happy time, certainly for me, and I do hope for the Thursday group as well. I must tell them more often

If you are interested in volunteering your services contact our volunteer coordinator by sending an email to coordinator@mmcnz.org.nz or phoning the Multicultural Centre on 358 1572.

Click here to meet Meriam