“The smiling faces of children welcomed me as I walked into the classroom for the first time,” Vincent Eka explained of his first teaching experience, saying that this would be a special year to remember.

Vincent obtained a Diploma in Primary Teaching from the Sacred Heart Teachers College through an Australia Awards PNG Scholarship in 2021. He says, “I am thankful for the opportunity that I was able to complete my three years of studies through the scholarship and now I am a proud teacher.”

After graduating from college, Vincent decided to “leave his family and comfort and experience life in a different environment.”

Late last year, he left Gulf Province and went to Oro Province with a best friend he met in college, without knowing that he would begin his career at the Sorovi Primary School this year.

“It is a blessing to be able to secure a teaching position straight after graduating from college,” he says. “It wasn’t easy, but I worked hard to earn it.”

However, the blessing comes with challenges for Vincent. There are no teaching resources at the school, and he has gone through many stages to understand his students, as they come from a very different culture to him.

“I had to make sure that all of my students learn and understand the lessons I teach regardless of whatever background they come from, and regardless of whether they are slow or fast learners,” he says. “It’s challenging maybe because I just started teaching, but as time goes by, it’ll be easier.”

It is his fifth month, Vincent is enjoying teaching and finding it very satisfying. He aspires to be a great teacher and is inspired by his students. “As a new teacher, the students motivate me when they demonstrate that they understand clearly and learn what I teach,” he says.

Vincent says the Australia Awards scholarship was important to him as it allowed him to overcome his financial constraints and he welcomed the opportunity to earn a teaching qualification.

“My advice to those who are interested in the scholarship is that it is an opportunity, and you have to grab it and make use of it. If you are willing to apply, go for it!” says Vincent.