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Forging a New Path

Posted June 28, 2020

Meet Rola, an independent, resilient and focused Lebanese woman forging a new path in Australia.

On arrival in Australia Rola, experienced a succession of personal setbacks and found herself experiencing isolation and loneliness in the unfamiliar culture. Looking to improve her English, Rola arrived at PRACE in 2017.

“I felt alone and what was worse was that I couldn’t do anything independently – I couldn’t go to the doctors or go out shopping by myself!” says Rola.

Back in Lebanon, Rola experienced success at university and prior to leaving, was about to commence her final year of a business accounting degree. While she enjoyed university, she spent most of her time either with her family or studying, which made the transition to independent life in Australia especially difficult. 

“I felt unsure of what to do in Australia in every sense. I couldn’t communicate and I’d never worked in Lebanon – I went straight from school to university, which is normal in my country. I’d also never lived out of home or learned to cook for myself. There were a thousand lessons I had to learn every day and life felt very hard” she explains.

Feeling that she needed to take significant steps to regain her independence and move forward, Rola enrolled in EAL II at PRACE. Rola selected PRACE because it was walking distance from her accommodation but soon realised that it was not just a convenient location that would make this a worthwhile decision.   

“The first thing I remember about being at PRACE was how I felt immediately welcomed.  The administration staff, the other students and all of the teachers, especially Belinda my teacher, made such a big effort to help me with my English and in so many other ways” says Rola.

Rola was surprised when she was quickly moved from EAL II to EAL III. While she lacked confidence in English, her written and spoken skills were actually quite high! One of Rola’s biggest barriers to communication was her lack of confidence.  In an organisation that encourages ‘having a go’, Rola had many opportunities to explore social life in a supportive environment

“I gained confidence at PRACE, not just English skills. This experience changed my life – now I’m more independent than I ever was in Lebanon. I can get around Melbourne by train by myself feeling safe and comfortable. I make my own decisions.”

Rola completed the highest level of EAL studies at PRACE in late 2018 and is currently supporting a family member to establish a new restaurant in Tarneit where she has gained valuable experience and made a community of friends from all over the world. 

Later this year, Rola plans to enrol in a SLPET course to gain further exposure to Australian work culture as she works towards her long term goal of working in and office and returning to university. 

Rola is a regular visitor at PRACE and we enjoy hearing her updates – she’s thriving with big opportunities on the horizon. We can’t wait to see what this resilient and determined young woman achieves next.

Inspired? Find out more about our English classes.