Brazilian-born Paula Mullane (pictured right) has a passion to teach. She taught English in South America before travelling to the UK with a return ticket, to enhance her vocabulary skills. But her visit became a one-way trip following an unscheduled visit to Norfolk that birthed a new adventure as an interpreter and English speaking teacher.
The member of Hope Community Church, Wymondham, provides English speaking lessons at the town's Hub Community Project. The weekly Saturday sessions are paving a new path of communication and confidence for a variety of immigrants now living in Wymondham, Attleborough, Dereham and Watton, since they were launched six months ago.
"It is important to be patient and develop learning strategies for different abilities," explains Paula, a volunteer whose popular two-hour lessons, that include a refreshment break, are building friendships and understanding with those from Brazil, Portugal and France.
During the week, Paula is busy using her interpreting skills from Thetford to Great Yarmouth in a growing, cross-cultural society. She is a national registered interpreter, holding a Diploma in Public Service Interpreting since 2007. Her lessons help facilitate new aspects to people’s lives and she is often called on to interpret at hospitals, police stations and court hearings as well as help with form-filling.
"I get to see and help a lot of different people," says Paula, who may teach 45 students in a single lesson. "Language is like planting a seed that begins to blossom. Those who have zero ability are learning to communicate with practice. I love seeing the results as it opens up new opportunities for their careers and in society," says Paula.
She attributes success to her beliefs: "It is the kindness and mercy of Jesus' identity that lives in and through me," says Paula. Her inspiring faith and resulting vocation comes from her late mother who was a teacher and church planter in Brazil. "Her home was always an open door for love and care," recalls Paula.
Paula taught at primary and secondary schools in Brazil before visiting England at Christmas 2002, ready to start an intensive three-week course in Bournemouth in the New Year, before finally flying back home. But with fast evaporating funds, she was at a loss to know how to finance her stay until she met a group of Brazilians in London's Oxford Street. Their suggestion to accompany them to King's Lynn to find work began a life-changing chapter.
"I was soon employed in a chicken factory, earning more in a week than I could earn in a month in South America," says Paula. As she conversed with her colleagues her English speaking skills quickly developed without the need for a specialised course.
"I wanted to stay in the area to give back my blessing from God," says Paula. She put down roots when her children joined her from Brazil and she attended a church in King's Lynn where she started English speaking lessons for a growing influx of immigrants before moving to Wymondham last year.