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Say Hola to Erika!

Lives in Newborough

Hola.

Erika – Spanish

 

When Erika was 15 years old, her family moved from Peru to Chile.

The language was the same – Spanish – but the locals spoke quickly and with a different accent, making them at times difficult to understand.

It took some getting used to but she soon adapted and gained valuable life experience as a result.

To this day, Erika identifies as more Peruvian than Chilean, and she hopes to provide her young daughter, Emi, with the opportunity to feel similarly connected to her South American roots as she grows up in Australia – all while learning a new language herself.

“At home we speak Spanish because we want to keep Emi speaking Spanish,” Erika said. “I go to school, practice with my friends and go out more and this is how I try to learn English.”

In 2013, Erika met an Australian backpacker at the tail end of a six-week trip that ended with the former flying to Argentina to nurse the latter back to health after a severe sunburn became infected and left him stranded in Mendoza.

They spent two weeks together and seven months later, Jarrod returned to Chile from Australia and their relationship blossomed, with the arrival of Emi in early 2016 prompting a re-think on their future.

In mid-2016, Jarrod travelled back home to Newborough to begin the exhaustive process of emigrating his family from Chile, a move that finally materialised in early 2018.

“Jarrod needed to work very hard [in Chile] to get a good salary so I said ‘ok if there is a better future [in Australia] you go and I will go after you,” Erika recalled.

“It was hard but now we are good, we are together.”

While Spanish is among the most widely spoken languages in the world, native speakers remain few and far between in the Latrobe Valley, relative to those of other international communities.

Erika is taking English lessons and improving every day, but one of the biggest challenges is ensuring Emi, now four years old and attending kindergarten, retains links to her South American heritage.

“Emi is good, she speaks both. She understands Spanish but she doesn’t want to talk it because she speaks English here. She doesn’t need to speak Spanish so she replies in English.

“Sometimes when we read books [in Spanish] I say repeat after me… because the pronunciation is good too and some people have trouble like I have trouble with English.”

Juggling multiple jobs as a nursing assistant and in retail in Santiago, Erika’s studies in business management and human resources were put on hold when she became pregnant with Emi, but the eventual move to Australia has given her an opportunity to forge a new career path.

Her role as a cultural carer at Gippsland Multicultural Services has reignited her passion for nursing and she is now taking steps towards that profession.

“I have the experience as a nursing assistant but I don’t have the qualification and my English is not that good to go to nursing,” Erika said.

“[So] I’m doing aged care and after that when I feel more confident with my English I’m going to do nursing again.”

The move has also been successful for Jarrod, who is thriving as a journalist at the ABC.

The young family are taking a trip to Chile for six weeks next month and are looking forward to reuniting Emi with family and her homeland, but for now, they are enjoying building their life in Australia.

“People here are very friendly, I like Newborough and this area because it is good for kids,” Erika said.

“For me because I was living in the cities you don’t have a big area for the children to grow up. The cities are busy and you don’t have the space and here kids can be more creative and I think it’s good for Emi.

“She loves it, she’s been in ballet, she goes to swimming lessons and if she’s happy then I’m happy too.”

 

The #WaysWeHello series explores and celebrates some of the many different greetings you may encounter in the Latrobe Valley to encourage greater social connection across our diverse community.

Say Hola to Erika!

Lives in Newborough

Hola.

Erika – Spanish

 

When Erika was 15 years old, her family moved from Peru to Chile.

The language was the same – Spanish – but the locals spoke quickly and with a different accent, making them at times difficult to understand.

It took some getting used to but she soon adapted and gained valuable life experience as a result.

To this day, Erika identifies as more Peruvian than Chilean, and she hopes to provide her young daughter, Emi, with the opportunity to feel similarly connected to her South American roots as she grows up in Australia – all while learning a new language herself.

“At home we speak Spanish because we want to keep Emi speaking Spanish,” Erika said. “I go to school, practice with my friends and go out more and this is how I try to learn English.”

In 2013, Erika met an Australian backpacker at the tail end of a six-week trip that ended with the former flying to Argentina to nurse the latter back to health after a severe sunburn became infected and left him stranded in Mendoza.

They spent two weeks together and seven months later, Jarrod returned to Chile from Australia and their relationship blossomed, with the arrival of Emi in early 2016 prompting a re-think on their future.

In mid-2016, Jarrod travelled back home to Newborough to begin the exhaustive process of emigrating his family from Chile, a move that finally materialised in early 2018.

“Jarrod needed to work very hard [in Chile] to get a good salary so I said ‘ok if there is a better future [in Australia] you go and I will go after you,” Erika recalled.

“It was hard but now we are good, we are together.”

While Spanish is among the most widely spoken languages in the world, native speakers remain few and far between in the Latrobe Valley, relative to those of other international communities.

Erika is taking English lessons and improving every day, but one of the biggest challenges is ensuring Emi, now four years old and attending kindergarten, retains links to her South American heritage.

“Emi is good, she speaks both. She understands Spanish but she doesn’t want to talk it because she speaks English here. She doesn’t need to speak Spanish so she replies in English.

“Sometimes when we read books [in Spanish] I say repeat after me… because the pronunciation is good too and some people have trouble like I have trouble with English.”

Juggling multiple jobs as a nursing assistant and in retail in Santiago, Erika’s studies in business management and human resources were put on hold when she became pregnant with Emi, but the eventual move to Australia has given her an opportunity to forge a new career path.

Her role as a cultural carer at Gippsland Multicultural Services has reignited her passion for nursing and she is now taking steps towards that profession.

“I have the experience as a nursing assistant but I don’t have the qualification and my English is not that good to go to nursing,” Erika said.

“[So] I’m doing aged care and after that when I feel more confident with my English I’m going to do nursing again.”

The move has also been successful for Jarrod, who is thriving as a journalist at the ABC.

The young family are taking a trip to Chile for six weeks next month and are looking forward to reuniting Emi with family and her homeland, but for now, they are enjoying building their life in Australia.

“People here are very friendly, I like Newborough and this area because it is good for kids,” Erika said.

“For me because I was living in the cities you don’t have a big area for the children to grow up. The cities are busy and you don’t have the space and here kids can be more creative and I think it’s good for Emi.

“She loves it, she’s been in ballet, she goes to swimming lessons and if she’s happy then I’m happy too.”

 

The #WaysWeHello series explores and celebrates some of the many different greetings you may encounter in the Latrobe Valley to encourage greater social connection across our diverse community.

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