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Defining community

Defining community

Read the full article by Harrison Vesey. Picture: Isabella Lettini. Published in (July 04, 2017)

Aleksandra Malbasa perfectly encapsulates the success of the Adult Migrant English Program at Macquarie Community College.

In 2001 she arrived in Australia from former Yugoslavia with almost no spoken English skills.
Within two years she had a full-time job at the college, and four years ago was promoted to the role of the program's operations coordinator.

She had mixed emotions as Sydwest Multicultural Services and Relationships Australia threw a farewell party for the 40 Blacktown-based teachers on Thursday.

"That's a big success for me, knowing that I'm able to have a proper conversation with other people," she said. "But the saddest part is that I'm losing my family. Today and tomorrow are days for crying. I prepared myself."

Ms Malbasa said she learned something from everyone she worked with at the college.

"It's something I'm going to keep and try to embrace for the rest of my life," she said.

"This environment here that we have, whether it's a happy one or a sad one, we are always together. We always comfort each other and help each other as much as we can."

Macquarie Community College shut the doors to its Blacktown campus on Friday, having delivered the language program to thousands of students in the area since 1998.

In total, the college delivered about four million hours of face-to-face English language and settlement lessons to 24,700 students across Sydney over the past 19 years. In April the government announced the program would be delivered by TAFE from July 1.

Maria Moylan was one of the first teachers to start working at the Blacktown campus.

"I always wanted to travel the world, and the world came to us," she said.

"Blacktown has always been a fantastic place for community. People in Blacktown look out for each other. The new arrivals here; they might be changing or expanding it, but they're not changing it too much because it's still a community where people look out for each other."