WHEN Caleb Huanung first came to Australia from Burma, he spoke no English. Now the Braybrook man is helping others to understand the language. Mr Huanung, 33, is one of 27 RMIT students who received scholarships from the Victorian Government to assist in their Diploma of Interpreting course.
The university student came to Australia in 2005 to escape political persecution in his native Burma. Unable to speak the language, he often needed an interpreter to accompany him on routine outings such as doctor’s appointments. “At that time it was very hard to get a Burmese interpreter. Often, I could not understand all of their conversation. Sometimes I noticed that the interpreter interpreted incorrectly,” Mr Huanung said. These early experiences shaped his determination to pursue a career in interpreting.
“I came from a non-English-speaking background so most of my community doesn’t speak English. So I decided to do this course to try and help my community,” he said.
Unable to study for the diploma in his native Schin dialect, Mr Huanung is undertaking the course in Burmese. He said the scholarships were a great relief to students who might otherwise have difficulty paying for the course. He will use the money to help pay for transport to and from the university’s city campus and to buy textbooks.
“The scholarships make us very happy and make us want to do the course more because of this support,” Mr Huanung said. James Merlino, the Minister assisting the Premier on Multicultural Affairs, presented the scholarships at a ceremony at Queen’s Hall, Parliament House. Mr Merlino praised the recipients who, he said, were pursuing a valuable career. He said the scholarships aimed to support the crucial role that interpreting played in the community by providing equal access to information and services.