Victoria University’s Western Melbourne English Program continues to give students from across the world to further enhance their studies.
The program currently hosts about 100 students as they learn English or embark on a range of vocational training at the Footscray and Sunshine campuses of VU’s TAFE division, VU Polytechnic.
Classrooms are a mini-United-Nations of students from Sudan, Somalia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and more, with people from Afghanistan and Ukraine the most recent groups to arrive.
About 30 Afghan students have enrolled since last September.
WMEP’s Afghani students include six young women forced to flee because they were involved as players or officials with the now-outlawed Afghan women’s national soccer team.
Students Saleha Rezaie and Oranos Haidary play on their new team as a defender and a forward respectively.
Like many other recent Afghani evacuees, both had their humanitarian visas fast-tracked to permanent residency. However, with their families still behind, they remain uncertain about their futures in Australia.
Haidary hopes to work in computer science after earning a degree in that field in Afghanistan, while Rezaie is focused on improving her language skills.
Fellow students and compatriots, Sayed Sadat and Ahmad Aman both left Afghanistan in large family groups, and both aim to go to university for information technology careers.
Another student, Yulia Nimets arrived from Ukraine only six months ago with her mother and grandmother to settle with relatives already in Australia. All three generations of women commute together to the Sunshine campus three times a week to study English at different levels.
With her father behind aiding Russian resistance forces in her hometown of Kremonchuk, Yulia is hopeful she can someday return home.