ANGELA KEATING started volunteering with our Homework Club in 2009 when she was still a university student. In this Q&A, she chats to fellow volunteer RYAN FONG about how doing something useful with her spare time turned into a family-wide passion for tutoring.
What’s been most memorable about volunteering with Homework Club?
As a Homework Club tutor, I’ve been able to help children who first arrived in Australia with little English background. When every word on paper is an achievement – it brings lots of smiles to both students and tutors. Seeing students who arrived with little English graduate from high school and get into university is big feat and gives me a great sense of satisfaction.
Every now and then, I bump into my former students in the city as peers and we share our life stories with each other.
After volunteering for a few years, my fellow tutors and I wanted to do something more to support the girls who attended the Homework Club. We were able to secure additional funding to develop a creative workshop program called She Can Create, in which the girls had the opportunity to explore art, music and fashion around Melbourne. Every Saturday was incredibly fun as the girls tried out things like DJ-ing, hip hop, sewing, aerosol stencilling and photography.
The program ran successfully in Flemington in 2012 and in St Albans in 2013. I’m still very proud of the girls’ commitment to the program and their confidence at the final exhibition every year.
What have you gained from volunteering as a Homework Club tutor?
I’ve gained so much from volunteering as a Homework Club tutor. It has inspired my vocation – to support newly-arrived refugees with settling into our community. My involvement with Homework Club gave me lots of experience, support and mentoring from the generous staff at Jesuit Social Services. As I finished university, they were my referees for my first job in the social work sector. My current work is coordinating the government’s refugee and asylum seeker programs.
I have met so many life-long friends. I am still good friends with fellow tutors who I met on my first day of volunteering. Families from the Flemington community are also my friends – I stayed with generous hosts when I visited East Africa.
I’ve also been sharing my volunteering experience with my family. My mum, sister and cousin have all signed up to volunteer with Jesuit Social Services. Sometimes, the only place we see each other is at the Homework Club! Volunteering at the Homework Club has brought a shared passion and richness to my family, which I did not expect.