Ali Ata left his homeland of Syria with his wife, leaving behind what he describes as ‘fear and horror,’ in the wake of the war.
They came to Australia seeking safety and a secure future.
Arriving in their new community in Wollongong knowing only Arabic, Ali found he wanted to learn English – and needed to – in order to settle into his new community.
“Honestly, I felt like, as if I didn’t exist if it didn’t know it [English], and felt like nothing if I didn’t know it,” he shares candidly.
Since enrolling with the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) with the MAX team in Wollongong, Ali’s language skills have flourished. In turn, Ali has become increasingly independent in his new environment.
“Now I can take a bus to go home or come to school, go to work, everything is better thanks to God,” he shares.
And beyond just the practical, Ali’s ever-improving English proficiency has allowed him to build friendships and community within his AMEP class and in Wollongong.
“I met many friends, I have many friends,” says Ali of his connections in the Wollongong community. And of his AMEP classmates, he shares… “These are not students – these are sisters. I mean, friends and sisters.”
Ali has been working at a local pizza store for the past year.
As he continues to develop his English skills and confidence, Ali draws nearer to achieving his personal and career goals.
“The best thing for me…my dream is to become a great chef,” he says.
The AMEP has been helping migrants like Ali to grow their confidence in English and find their feet in Australia for many years. In fact, Government supported English programs for migrants have been running in Australia since 1948.
Ali joined his fellow students during Refugee Week in 2022. The MAX AMEP team welcomed students and migrant support partners from the community for a special celebration of culture, food and friendship.