Starting a new life in a different country is no small feat.
When you are bringing your family along with you and leaving unstable, and unsafe conditions back home it can take some time to adjust.
A big part of this adjustment period and the key to really thriving in your new surroundings is a firm grasp of the local language.
Sharifa Atai, a Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) Program student in Belconnen, knows this all too well.
After attending a vocational career session at MAX she realised her level of English would need to improve if she wanted to become a childcare educator.
Growing up in Afghanistan Sharifa was not allowed to study outside of her home. After moving to Iran at 8 she only completed 3 more years of schooling before her education ended not long before she was married at the age of 13.
Since joining the SEE program at Belconnen she has shown drive to consistently improve her language skills and her employability prospects within the childcare industry.
This was recently acknowledged by becoming a recipient of the Geoff McPherson Refugee Education Award.
The award is named after the founding President of Canberra Refugee Support Inc, a local not-for-profit seeking to better the lives of refugees and asylum-seekers in Canberra.
The award includes a scholarship of 1000 dollars to cover educational costs and encourage refugees and asylum-seekers to continue their educational pursuits successfully.
Since coming to Australia she has enjoyed a new-found independence, something she did not have in Afghanistan or Iran.
“I am now independent” Sharifa says, she also emphasises how much the English classes have helped her.
She will spend her award on a computer so she can continue her studies and work towards her dream of working in childcare.