Language is considered one of the main challenges newcomers face when they settle in a new country.
Two newcomers to Sydney had an amazing day with their Welcome2Sydney volunteer ambassador, Amanda.
Welcome2Sydney works on making newcomers feel comfortable, boosting their self-confidence and overcoming their fear of communicating with locals.
Since its launch early this year, the collaboration between SSI and the City of Sydney has been inviting newcomers and Sydney residents to meet and engage in welcoming activities to reduce barriers and encourage a cross-cultural conversation between people from different backgrounds.
An elderly couple from Syria met with Amanda, one of the Welcome2Sydney volunteer ambassadors, to go on a city tour and explore the beautiful spots that Sydney has to offer.
They were initially reluctant to meet with an ambassador due to their poor English skills. However, they eventually spent a wonderful day with Welcome2Sydney volunteers exploring the harbour, taking the ferry and sharing some fish and chips by the water at one of Sydney’s iconic attractions.
After the activity, the newcomers said, “We were sceptical at the beginning as we realised that volunteers did not speak Arabic. However, after spending some time together, we felt so comfortable and relaxed. The most beautiful thing about this outing was how we connected with the hosts despite our limited English.
“We were able to understand each other and easily communicate. We had such an amazing day, everything outside was colourful and Sydney is just a paradise.”
The Welcome2Sydney activity was a great first experience of the city for the newly arrived couple. It demonstrated that barriers aren’t surmountable, and differences in culture or language are not an issue in communicating with others and making connections.