A cross-cultural group inspired by language and friendship

Jan Rowling is the English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) coordinator at North Kalgoorlie Primary School (NKPS), in the outback of Western Australia. She has recently started a group for parents focusing on conversational English, particularly for parents with an English as a Second Language (ESL) background.

Jan has been teaching for over twenty years. Her first job was in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, at the Wananami Remote Community School. All of her students at Wananami were Aboriginal children, whose first languages were Aboriginal English or Kriol, and as Jan explains, it was 'very much an ESL situation'.

It was in her capacity as an EAL/D specialist, and a mum to two NKPS students herself, that Jan saw a need for parents of her students to be able to get together with other parents, and the North Kalgoorlie Culture Club was born.

The group meets every fortnight, where they get together in a warm, friendly environment that fosters inclusiveness and conversation. It’s a chance for those parents with different language backgrounds to exercise their English, and an opportunity to talk about their experiences at home and in Australia.

“Thinking about how I might feel... and then you magnify it for someone who’s just arrived in the country, just arrived into Kalgoorlie, and their kid has just started at a school that’s nothing like any school they’ve ever been to before... how isolated that person must be feeling," said Jan.

“It’s also been a really good opportunity for some of the mums to voice their sadness at missing their family and missing their home. Some people have moved here because their husbands have got jobs and they’ve had to move a really long way away from all their networks and their friends and what they know, and some people have moved here because of trauma in their own country and they’ve had to leave, and some people can’t go back.”

Jan’s hopes for the group are to see a 'big bunch' of women talking and laughing, but she says that these things take time, adding: “it’s lucky we’ve got a lot of time!”.

Produced for ABC Open's 'Unsung' project with Nathan Morris.

Melissa Drummond - Goldfields Photographer

Short film produced for ABC Open's 'Makers and Creators' project in collaboration with artist and friend, Lee Harrop.

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