WHEN Khadijeh Ebrahimi arrived from Iran as a refugee, she was so determined to learn English she completed two years’ worth of study in just one.
“I didn’t want to waste any time,” Ms Ebrahimi, 26, said.
“I’m a fast learner, but I’m also a dedicated learner.
“It was really hard, I had no car, a small daughter, but I still came every day and did my best to learn.”
Ms Ebrahimi, who was recently awarded the Cultural Diversity prize at the 2016 Hunter TAFE Awards, reflected during Refugee Week on her journey to her much-loved adopted homeland and plans to contribute.
She will start the University of Newcastle’s Open Foundation program next month and hopes to study for a nursing degree.
“I want to become more independent, I don’t want to have to rely on other people,” she said.
“If I study I can do my job and I don’t need anybody else’s help.
“If you work hard, you can do anything and achieve your goals.”
Ms Ebrahimi’s parents were born in Afghanistan, but the war forced them to flee to Iran.
They married and had Ms Ebrahimi and her two younger brothers and sisters in Iran.
Ms Ebrahimi said she had a safe and happy upbringing and married, according to custom, at 14.
But in 2010, the government decided Afghans or those of Afghan descent “should not be in the country anymore”.
Her family were moved to a camp where they spent two years in a two-bedroom house without a kitchen or bathroom, waiting for their application to Australia to be approved.
Her parents and siblings arrived in August 2013 and she, her husband Shahab and daughter Neyayesh, now 4, arrived 13 days later.
Ms Ebrahimi completed her Preliminary Course and Certificate 1 in Spoken and Written English at Tighes Hill TAFE in half the recommended time, before enrolling at a Certificate III in Aged Care at Glendale, which earned her the qualification of an assistant in nursing.
Her teacher Paul Robertson said she was a “hardworking, gifted language learner”.
“It was commitment to her studies and a preparedness to practice her language skills wherever possible that allowed her to do this,” he said.
Ms Ebrahimi completed at Certificate II in Spoken and Written English last year and is currently completing Certificate III.
“I love Australia, it’s given me freedom, it’s given me everything,” Ms Ebrahimi said.
“I can study, I can get a job.
“I can do anything I want to do.”