When Jenny Jerry was offered the opportunity to further her education in Australia she jumped at it.
|Jenny Jerry celebrates her degree with her four daughters and husband|
The mother-of-four was desperate for a tertiary education but was unable to achieve it in her homeland of Papua New Guinea.
The answer for Jenny was an Australian Development Scholarship offered by AusAID to study at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
She believes education is the key to success and is passionate about teaching as many Papua New Guinean (PNG) children as possible.
“Coming from a third world country is not easy,” Jenny said.
“I love children and it’s through teaching that I can make a difference to their lives and do something meaningful for my country.”
So highly does Jenny value education that she left her job, home, husband and four children behind in 2008 and made the daunting move to Brisbane to study at QUT.
“When I came here I was so lonely the first few weeks that I cried myself to sleep,” she said.
“Then I thought to myself – this won’t do. I’m a sociable person by nature so I set out to make friends so that I could survive.”
While Jenny soon made friends at QUT and threw herself into her Bachelor of Education Early Childhood studies, she wasn’t the only one who felt that the pain of family separation was too much to bear.
Her husband, Michael, moved to Brisbane in July 2009 and found a job and they then brought their four children to Brisbane before Christmas that year.
“We haven’t looked back since,” Jenny said.
“The children settled in at Yeronga State School and love their schoolwork as well as their sport.”
“We’ve made a lot of friends in the local area but after completing my degree I feel an overwhelming urge to go back to PNG and through teaching help children there succeed in life.”
Thirty-six-year-old Jenny has been offered a five-year teaching position at the international school at Mt Hagen and her four children, all girls, aged 12, 10, seven and five, will attend school there as well.
The youngest, Lesley, will be one of her pupils in the prep and grade one class.
“I feel really well-prepared to teach, having done a lot of practical teaching as part of my degree and I have lots of ideas to implement in the classroom,” she said.
“The support I received from teachers and mentors at QUT has helped prepare me and other classmates for real work.”
“While doing our prac work we were always encouraged to solve problems on our own and not run away from them, so now I know I’m ready to lead a classroom.”
While she was already working as a primary school teacher in Milne Bay before coming to Australia, the Bachelor of Education Early Childhood will enable Jenny to contribute to the establishment and development of early childhood education in PNG and run demonstration classes for colleagues.
Ready to embark on a new chapter in her career, Jenny said her time in Australia and at QUT have changed her attitudes to life.
“I experienced so many different cultures while living and studying in Brisbane that I feel like an international person rather than solely a Papua New Guinean,” Jenny said.