Naseema Spaull, Swinburne University
My name is Naseema Spaull. I am thirty-eight years old. I come from India and English is my second language. I’m married to an Australian man, Adam, and have a child, Zechariah.
I was introduced to TAFE by a job provider when I was unemployed in 2010. I was terrified of going to TAFE because I thought that people might judge or discriminate against me because of my age. I was then thirty-three years old. Once I started as an introductory student, I was so surprised at the way teachers and students reacted towards me. They were extremely helpful and encouraging, able to make me feel comfortable and safe.
Before I started at TAFE, I did have a job at Coles where I worked for fourteen and a half years. However, I had to leave for personal circumstances and I wanted a change in my career.
The job provider gave me several options about careers but most work required some kind of skills, like English, maths and computers which I did not have. Even though I speak English very well, my writing is not good enough. As a child, I did not have much of an education because where I come from, India, only rich children could afford to go to school.
At the age of eleven and a half years old, I was adopted by an Australian couple who gave me a second chance in life and the education I needed. When I started schooling here at primary and high school, I honestly did not enjoy the school because the students were so cruel and hurtful to me. At the time, I did not speak English very well and I had a funny accent which the students teased me about.
For years I struggled, to be perfect with my English, especially with my writing and reading even though I practised a lot by reading the newspaper or books and rewriting the texts into my own words. Also I am a chatterbox so this helps with my spoken English.
I have mental, physical and alcohol problems which I have struggled with for many years and I still struggle with these. If it wasn’t for my family and TAFE, who have given me the strength and support to carry on, I think I would give up. Also, their encouragement keeps me continuing to advance my education where I’m gaining so much knowledge, skills and experience. I am improving a lot with my writing, reading and really getting better with computer programmes. I am learning how to cope with my life, juggling study and family commitments.
Now I am even writing a couple books about my son and my life with the help of the teachers, support workers and my husband.