By MALUM NALU
When Pomio girl Jenny Jerry (nee Kavewan) was offered the opportunity to further her education in Australia she jumped at it.
The mother of four was desperate for a tertiary education but was unable to achieve it in her homeland of Papua New Guinea.
Jerry, who graduated with a Bachelor of Education Early Childhood degree from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) last Thursday(Dec 14, 2011), came through the hard way from her home in remote Pomio, East New Britain.
|Jenny Jerry celebrates her Bachelor of Education Early Childhood degree from the Queensland University of Technology with (from left) Esther (7, Tamicah (10), Joyce (12), Lesley (5) and husband Michael.-Picture courtesy of QUT|
“I am from a family of six children, of which there were five boys and me, my brothers’ only little sister,” she told me from Brisbane this week.
“Mum and dad died in my teen age years and I lived part of my life with my brothers in Port Moresby.
“I attended school as a child at Kaiton Community School in the West Pomio district.
“I attended the local high school, Palmalmal High school in Pomio from 1990-1993, however, was forced to leave because of an unfortunate incident and didn’t complete my Grade 10 that year.
“I went to Port Moresby Grammar school in 1995 to do Grade 10, then off to Kabaleo Teachers College in 1996, completing teacher training in 1998 and graduated with a Diploma in Primary School Teaching.
“I worked for four years, teaching upper primary students in East New Britain and left in 2003 to join International Education Agency.
“From 2004-2007, I worked as an early childhood teacher teaching pre-schoolers and preps at Alotau International School.
“Being a primary school trained teacher, it was kind of hard for me as I discovered that Early Learning was totally different to primary school teaching.
“I took interest in the age group of children in this area, so I decided to ask my bosses to let me apply for studies with AusAID.”
The answer for Jenny was an Australian Development Scholarship offered by AusAID to study at the QUT.
She believes education is the key to success and is passionate about teaching as many PNG children as possible.
“Coming from a third world country is not easy,” Jerry 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 Jerry value education that she left her job, home, husband Michael and four children – Joyce (12), Tamicah (10), Esther (7) and Lesley (5) - 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 Jerry soon made friends at QUT and threw herself into her 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,” Jerry 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 Jerry 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 degree will enable Jerry 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, Jerry said her time in Australia and at QUT had 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,” she said.
“Apart from the child development courses and teaching and learning units I did as a teacher, I also gained knowledge what I called ‘social knowledge’ which I will take with me to be part of me as a person and as a teacher in teaching what I believe in.
“This kind of learning changes your perspectives about life and gives you more depth in understanding issues that affect the world and how you come into it.”
Jerry has strong feelings about women in PNG as well as relationships with children.
“Enjoy life to the full and forgive and forget what people do to you and you will be blessed,” she says.
“Sometimes blessings come in disguise, you never know.
“I had lots of difficulties along the way but I guess I enjoyed my life and I was blessed.
“I have beautiful children and a great husband who helped me a lot, and my children have a better education.
“I never took time to cry over bad things that happened to me.
“I picked up from my mistakes and I carried on looking for ways to get to the same outcomes that others who went through the normal progression got to.
“Getting expelled from school didn’t hinder my education and pursuit of knowledge, although it may have slowed down the progression.
“My mum always stressed to me when I was a little girl that relationships are important.
“She would say ‘You must not carry grudges with you till the sun goes down. You must forgive people of the wrongs they do unto you’.
“She was a very strong Catholic mum who adored me as a child and taught me things that I would need when I grew up.
“Now, as a mum, I am teaching my girls everything about life.
My husband and I sit them down and talk through issues before they eat at least once a week.
“Often, we are busy with work and we think our children know what to do and when they make mistakes, we slap them because our expectations are too high.
“We need to teach them what to do before we expect them to do it right.
“And we need to keep reminding them as children need constant reminding.
“Mothers, we need to love our children, adore them and cherish them while they are still young.
“At the same time we need to teach them about life as early as possible.
“Research has it that children remember things that are taught to them in their pre-school years and the time spent with loved ones carries them through in their school lives and adult lives.
“When they face hard times, they become resilient because of the love sewn when they were young.”