Very few 79 year olds can say they still attend school every week. Ki Ing Cu is one of the happy exceptions.
Ki was born and raised in a mountain village in East Timor where her mother ran a large coffee and tea plantation. In 1981, Ki moved her family to Australia – no mean feat with 7 daughters and 2 sons! Like most migrants to Australia, Ki’s early years here were spent supporting her family and getting her children through their education. There was very little time for Ki to focus on her own learning and although she spoke a number of different languages, her English was minimal.
Ki enrolled in “English Steps 1” with us in 2011. Since then, Ki has returned to class every single year – slowly but steadily improving her spoken and written English so that she is now a proud member of our English & Work Skills Level 2 class (our highest level class).
When asked why she chose Kensington Neighbourhood House, Ki says “It is close to me so I can walk, and it is very friendly. Everyone here is friendly and helpful. And our teacher is very good.”
It is not easy to learn an additional language later in life. Our small, supportive classes have helped Ki to master the English skills needed for daily living. “Oh, I am very confident now. I can talk to people in the street,” says Ki.
These days Ki’s children are spread far and wide with her youngest son running his own IGA supermarket in Tasmania, another child living in Darwin and her second oldest daughter living in East Timor as the Director General for Multilateral Affairs.
Every year Ki tries to have a big family gathering at Christmas time. With 9 children, 16 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren and associated in-laws it is quite an event!
When she is not attending Kensington Neighbourhood House, Ki swims four mornings a week at the local pool and catches up with friends to play mahjong. She is probably the only student who does not look forward to term breaks, saying “I feel bored in the holidays.”
Adult Learning Australia has nominated 2018 as the “Year of Lifelong Learning” and we think Ki personifies this ideal. We look forward to seeing her smiling face for many years to come.