Originally from Serbia, Marina arrived in New Zealand in 1994, with her husband and one of her two sons. Marina had taught English as a Foreign Language back home and a volunteer ESOL home tutor she met in Lower Hutt suggested that, with her English-teaching background, Marina might like to join ELP and help other new arrivals.
“Marina was officially ‘Volunteer Number 10!'” says Christine Cook, Hutt’s centre manager.
“She initially gave one-to-one lessons with two different learners,” says Christine.
In 1996, Marina was a founding committee member of the Hutt ESOL Home Tutors Scheme, (now ELPNZ) and, as well as supporting the manager, Marina helped train volunteers before taking on the Coordinator position in 2000.
“Marina’s always been one to step up for extra volunteering. She also served on the national board in the early 2000s.”
Marina has worked as a national moderator for the ESOL Home Tutor programme, and lent her expertise in the team creating moderation guidelines. She’s assisted with many of ELP’s specialised programmes in the Hutt – ESOL Home Tutor training, Learner Drivers Licence courses, English Language Groups and the NZ Certificate in English Language.
Christine says Marina takes a very active role in all other centre activities too!
In her time, Marina has met over 4,000 learners and 1,500 volunteers. “Marina’s also managed at least 1,000 ‘matchings,'” says Christine.
“Matching is our word for introducing learners and volunteers to each other before lessons begin. There’s a real skill in making sure the match goes smoothly and that people ‘click’ with each other.”
The amazing support Marina has given to 1000s of former refugees and migrants over the years and the bridges she’s created into many of our communities ensures that ELP continues to be a big part of their local support network.
After 20 years, Marina now has intergenerational knowledge of learners and their families.
“We’re indebted to her incredible knowledge and experience from working with former refugees and migrants.”
“Marina’s very active in refugee and migrant events and, of course, she knows many people from different communities in the Hutt Valley.”