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Celebrating diversity as a Volunteer!

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

I believe that the best thing about Britain is its celebration of diversity. I have only been working for PARCA for just under a year, but I have met so many people from different cultures and countries. I feel privileged to be able to get to know my community first-hand.

Although my parents were British, I was brought up in Belgium, speaking French. When I first arrived in this country, it seemed like an alien place, with unfathomable conventions of social etiquette. I understand, to some extent, what it feels like to be an outsider, trying to find your way in a new culture. In my ‘day-job’ I teach in a secondary school. There, I sometimes get to work with the EAL department helping students to become proficient English speakers. I am amazed at the wonderful job they do.

In my ‘free time’ I write and read poetry. I love poetry because I see it as the most powerful and moving form of language. Many of our contemporary poets writing in English were once -or are descended from – refugees: George Szirtes’ family were refugees from Hungary, Ilya Kaminska’s family fled from Russia. British-Somali poet Warsan Shire wrote in her poem “Home”.

“You only leave home

when home won’t let you stay”

It is near-impossible for me to fully understand the experiences people go through when they flee their homes for refuge in another country, but I’m grateful that I can offer what help I can.

I recently overheard one of my students saying that he was pleased when he heard that he was going to Peterborough because he had heard about this place called PARCA. That made me realize how vital PARCA’s services can be. It makes me proud to think that I play a small part in PARCA’s aims. And it warms my heart when I am cycling into town, and I hear someone calling “Hello Teacher!”

At work with Lidia Braga: the head of EAL at the secondary school where I work.

Julia Gaze

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