Thursday, August 23, 2012


i've been hesitant to write this post. i don't want to be all ooh look at me, i'm saving the world! i hope you don't take it that way, because it's not my intention.

when i came home from bali i didn't want to waste my esl qualification. it was something i had worked so hard for, and i was, if i do say so myself, quite proud of it. most of all though, it was something i really enjoyed.

i knew that i wasn't ready to quit work and get a job as an esl teacher - i had had a fantasy that a month of teaching in bali would have given me the foundations to do so, but it didn't quite work out that way - so i signed up with ames, a not for profit organisation that, amongst other things, provides english tutors to immigrants.

i had to do another course and was then matched up with a 31 year old girl from thailand, tookta, who lives about 5 minutes away from me. she's lived in australia with her australian husband for about 4 years and speaks english really well, but is struggling with reading and writing.

now i have to say that i never had a passion for helping immigrants, i never really had opinion of them at all, if i'm completely honest i associated immigrants with boat people and maybe had thoughts that bordered on racism. without making excuses, i was really naive to the whole situation, all i knew was what i saw in the media. people who come to our country illegally and then cause trouble when they get here. and then once i'd read about it in the paper or watched it on the news, i'd quickly forget and never thought to educate myself on the subject.

i'm not going to preach but i will tell you that my eyes have been opened. did you know that australia accepts 120,000 immigrants a year? we ask these people to live with us. the boat people are small minority. but an important minority.

just for a minute, think about this; you're happily married living a good life with your wife who is maybe another religion or from another country, but thats a non issue. you have kids that are doing great at school and have a good social life, you have a great job and are the bread winner of the family, you have a comfortable home in a nice neighborhood and a great circle of friends, your family lives close by and everyone you know speaks the same language as you, so do the people on the tv and the street signs, the forms, the names of shops, the labels on food and the safety instructions at work - they are all written in your language.

then your government changes and it's no longer acceptable for you to be married to the woman you love, the woman who is your life, or your safe neighborhood is no longer safe and you can't feel safe walking out the door let alone having your kids play safely. you are left with no choice but to move your family to a new country.

you're shown brochures of this wonderful new life filled with beaches and sunshine. and then you arrive in, say, deer park in melbourne, in the middle of june. very little sunshine and beaches in deer park in the middle of june. you struggle to find a job, trying to work out the bus time table is hard enough, reading a job ad is near impossible. there's no where to go to "switch off" - no club where you know you'll always find a familiar face. when you finally get a job it's in a factory at the very bottom of the food chain - the polar opposite to the well respected career you enjoyed back home. and filling out all those forms is your own private hell. your wife is struggling because she has no friends, no reasons to break up the day and your kids who strived at school and were always surrounded by a bunch of mates, come home crying every night because they don't fit in. you're developing depression because you can no longer provide for your family in the way you used to. and then on top off all of that you have to deal with the ignorant aussies who think you must have come here on a boat. illegally.

and i'll leave it as that. because i wanted to tell you about tookta.
that's not tooktas story. but she faced the same battles. having none of the people she grew up with around her, not knowing what the people on tv were saying, not being able to read a label or the bus time table or ask for a cheese sandwich at a cafe. she stands at the deli and practices the names of what she wants before she gets a number to save embarrassing herself. she works in a factory. in thailand she managed 35 people! and she has had to leave her son in thailand while they battle legal bullshit to have him live with her here.

guys, this woman is so inspiring. i came to her to teach her english but i can't even begin to put into words what she's taught me. she is so smart and so strong, so independent and switched on. she knows what she wants and she works hard to get it. harder than any australian i know. i sat in awe last night as she told me that she never owned a pair of shoes growing up. can you imagine that? never owned a pair of shoes. and now she is in a position to donate clothes and money to the people of her village.

i'm a big believer in the universe speaking to us, putting lessons and people into our lives for a reason. because of tookta i'm learning and experiencing new culture, different up bringing, different adult hoods, different lives and i feel so blessed to have met this beautiful person.

teaching tootka reminds me of the friends episode where phoebe tries to find a selfless good deed after joey tells her there is no such thing. i'm inclined to be on joeys side on this one. i think i'm gaining as much, if not more from my hour a week with tookta as she is. 


  1. Another beautiful insightful and gorgeously written post Jands.

    You are changing the world, own it dude. Don't be ashamed to say you are trying to make the world a better place - you are and that's so inspiring and honourable!

    I totally agree - giving is the gift.

    Sometimes we give so much we forget to allow receiving.. so look out here it comes! You are totally awesome! A life changing, inspirational, incredibly strong, intelligent and beautiful woman. You should do a 'Real Life Awesome' post on yourself - or get the contributors to write one for you and post it here. You are TOTALLY RAD!

    Change starts with you... the rest of the Universe follows suite. So props to you for starting the chain reaction that makes the world a better place!

  2. Wow - as I have already told you, you amaze me more and more each day as to how strong you have become. I am so proud of you for taking the effort in helping someone in need, we need more people in the world like you. People who are willing to put themselves out on a limb and push their own boundaries to aide others. The world is your oyster, and you are the pearl!!!

  3. I love this Jandy ! I love the way u look at life, I have never followed a blog before but think I might start now ! More people should be reading this and stop complaining about the little things and appreciate the things they take for granted !! xoxox

    1. thank you thank you! it makes me all warm and fuzzy to know people come by here, and even more so that people like what i have to say xx


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