Since 2007, Sydney English Academy (SEA) has sponsored students from one of the world’s newest nations: East Timor. It is SEAS’s hope that these students return to their country with a language and a cultural experience that will benefit not only themselves, but also their wider community.
Sancia Florencia Paixao Bano (or Metta for short!) is studying English. She is supported by Manly Friends of Oecusse. This week, Sam Milton caught up with Metta for a quick interview.
Sam: “How did you feel when you found out that you had been selected to take up the sponsored position at SEA?”
Metta: “Very lucky and very happy! Many thanks to SEA and Manly Friends of Oecusse.”
Sam: “Why do you need to improve your English?”
Metta: “I’m a lawyer back in E. Timor. I work for a safe house protecting people who are victims of domestic or sexual violence and we receive funding from AusAid. So regularly I have to write reports in English as well as attend meetings with our sponsors to maintain ongoing support for our funding.”
Sam: “Tell me about your family.”
Metta: “Well, I got married 3 years ago and my husband is a building contractor. We would really like to have kids in the future. I am one of 10 kids and my family, starting from my father, has always really valued education. Many of my brothers and sisters also work in humanitarian or aid organisations.”
Sam: “What’re the biggest differences between Australia and your country?”
Metta: “At first I really felt culture shock. Everything is different, amazing. Just one example; in E.Timor we eat rice and corn every day, maybe 3 times a day. Here you have so much choice. And your country is so safe. In 1999 the whole of my village had to hide in the mountains to escape the atrocities that were committed in E.Timor. But two of my cousins were killed. Still now we have a lot of crime problems.”
Sam: “What is your dream for the future?”
Metta: “I really want to complete a degree in psychology. With this and my legal qualifications I think I will be a very powerful advocate for my people. I hope that one day E.Timor will be just as amazing a country as Australia. It might take 35 to 40 years but I know we will get there.”