Christine Dorsey is not the same person she was 10 years ago.
Through her role as Waitaki’s Migrant Support and Newcomers Network co-ordinator, Mrs Dorsey has gained a new respect for, and learned much about, so many different cultures and ethnicities from around the world.
Now, after nearly 10 years in her role, Mrs Dorsey, who is employed by the Waitaki Multicultural Council, is moving on. Her last day is Thursday.
‘‘It’s just added to my life. My perspective has changed completely and that’s why I think it’s been such a privilege,’’ Mrs Dorsey said.
‘‘It’s fortunate if other people can have this opportunity . . .it just widens everyone’s knowledge and understanding, which improves acceptance, really.’’
In 2012, Mrs Dorsey was looking to get back into the workforce after having children, and took on the role as the newcomers network co› ordinator for five hours a week. By 2016, her role expanded to include the migrant support job, and she started working 25hours a week.
In the early days, the only activity was a coffee group and Mrs Dorsey used to ‘‘literally cross my fingers’’ other people would turn up.
‘‘It started really, really low and now we have on average 25 to 30 people every week, as well as having built up all our other activities.’’
Every week, she has facilitated walking groups, migrants’ meet› and›share events, English conversation club, English buddy programmes and monthly book groups and get›togethers. There were also pot luck dinners, picnics, Daffodil Day events, first aid courses, swimming lessons and others.
‘‘I couldn’t do any of this without an amazing group of volunteers. They’re really key to being able to do everything.’’
Waitaki had become a popular place for people from around the country — and the world — to settle in recent years. There had been a large influx following the Christchurch earthquake, Aucklanders were relocating, and the Pasifika and Filipino communities were massive.
People of more than 50 ethnicities called Waitaki home — and ‘‘the bottom line is we actually need them’’.
‘‘We need people in our jobs. If you look at our rest›home carers and our registered nurses, they are mainly migrants.
‘‘They’re such kind people — that’s what I feel through and through.’’
Her job helped connect newcomers with one another, giving them a sense of belonging, and she also helped with immigration issues. It could be an emotional job, over the past two years especially, as she watched people struggle to be away from their families and dealing with losing loved ones from Covid-19.
It had been a ‘‘real privilege’’ as people let her into their lives, and many of those connections would remain after she moved on, she said.
‘‘Getting to know people as friends breaks down all those pre-conceived ideas and views that we might have that aren’t always accurate.
‘‘I think it’s really important for us all to get to know people who might have come from a different country or be brought up in a different way — they have so much we can learn from.’’
Mrs Dorsey is going to take some time off before looking for a new venture. She was grateful to the Waitaki Multicultural Council for giving her an opportunity and the support she received at Abacus House.