Migrants Enriching Our Community

We all know that Palmerston North is a city with a very diverse population but its always good to actually get to know the sorts of people from other countries that we welcome into our city.

Linh Nguyen and Steven Ly are from Vietnam. Steven came first to NZ in 2003 to Study Civil Engineering at Auckland University. He worked as an intern for the Palmerston North City Council in 2005. They were so impressed with his work they offered him a scholarship for the next two years for his study. He continued to work for the Council during the summer holidays and after graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering, he returned to the Council in 2007 as a full time employee where he still works.

Linh and Steven knew each other in high school but lost touch after leaving school. Just like it happens in the movies they met again at a friends wedding when Steven was back in Vietnam for holidays. Romance blossomed through online chat and emails and Steven'™s yearly visits back to Vietnam. They married in September 2011! After their marriage Linh moved to be with Steven here in Palmerston North.

Linh studied environmental engineering at University in Ho Chi Mein, graduating in 2007. She worked firstly in a book store and then for an environmental company designing waste water treatment systems for small companies and factories.

I first met Linh when she came to Multicultural Centre in order to practise her English and make some contacts. With Steven at work all day and knowing very few people, (most of Stevens friends were at work all day) the days were long cold and boring. Linh had lots of English vocab but needed practise and confidence in speaking. She comes most days for classes or just for lunch and needless to say her English has improved hugely. At the risk of being cheesy!! Its like watching a flower bud bloom!! She is charming with a gorgeous smile.

Both say they have much more time to be together and for making friends here. Working life in Vietnam more often than not extends beyond a 5pm finish. They love the environment, find people very friendly and welcoming and without hundreds of motorbikes zooming up and down the streets life is a lot less noisy. Linh'™s first aim is to become fluent in English and then to look for work. She knows that it will be difficult but if she attacks the task with the same vigour and attitude she puts in to leaning her English, it wont take too long.

Here at the centre we try to connect people with other community organisations and work together for everyone'™s benefit. One such group is the wonderful Plant to Plate Aotearoa www.planttoplate.org.nz who take cooking and gardening into primary schools Check out their website its fantastic. Linh will join up with this group and help out in the class room. No doubt she will add her own unique flavours to cooking vegetables and if my own experience of food in Vietnam is anything to go by the kids will love it.

We welcome them at the centre here and hope we can continue to add value to their settling in experience.