My name is Kandeepan Somasuriyasingham.  I am from Sri Lanka. I came to Ireland in 2007. I first went to live in Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo.  I could not find suitable employment there so I moved to Athlone in 2007.

I applied for many jobs and the response was very poor.  Even though I attended many job interviews, I had no luck as I did not have any Irish references.  I planned to do a FAS Course in 2008 in Athlone.  During this course I had to do work experience.  I applied to numerous Accounts Companies, but I was not accepted.  I informed my instructor that I could not obtain work experience anywhere in Athlone.  My instructor informed his supervisor who got in touch with Bernie Mannion in Dr. Stevens Resource Centre in Athlone.

I was called for an interview with Bernie Mannion and she accepted me for one month’s work experience.  I felt this was a really good opportunity for me to interact with Irish people.

During my time in Dr. Stevens Resource Centre I worked in reception, did secretarial work, typed and helped in the Accounts Department.  I was treated very well there and shown the utmost of respect.

The Centre helped me in so many ways – I moved away from that area and found better accommodation on the advice of my work colleagues.  They also helped me with my language skills,communication and learning to work with people from different backgrounds than my own.

When I worked in the Accounts Department I learned some new techniques.  After I finished my work experience I continued to call to the Centre on a daily basis.  The reason for this is – I felt I had formed a friendly bond with the people that worked there.

The Supervisor and staff at the Centre helped me in many ways such as advice on

Housing, Insurance, Medical Facilities and Social Activities

When I finished Work Experience I was still applying for jobs and a Community Employment opportunity arose at the Centre.  I did the interview and was successful.  I worked as an Accounts Administrator in the Centre.  During this time I learned many things and interacted very well with all the staff.  While I was working in Accounts,the Supervisor asked me to teach Accounts as I have a Higher Diploma in Accounts.  I was so happy with this opportunity.

I was shown the FETAC Module Descriptorand from there I had to design my own notes and exercises for this course.  This was the first time the Centre ran this course (Computerised Accounts).  While I was preparing my class lesson, my Supervisor, Bernie Mannion and Marie Brazil and all the staff helped me with my grammar which I am most grateful. 

Even though I taught Computerised Accounts in my home country of Sri Lanka I took on the challenge to teach in this country in the English language.  All my students passed and they gave good feed back to my Supervisor.  This encouraged me and gave me a lot of confidence.

While I was in the Centre, I successfully completed  many courses such as E.C.D.L.,Advanced E.C.D.L., JEB – Teachers Diploma and Train the Trainer.  These courses were of great benefit to me.  I was grateful to avail of the opportunities given to me in the Centre.

The Community Employment Programme helped me in many ways – I had the opportunity of learning other skills and interacting with other people.  While I was teaching I realised people come from all different backgrounds.  I made so many friends and contacts from the Centre even though I was only there for 1 ½ years. I have formed strong friendships with the people that work there and know that I can go to any of them for help and advice.

Through the Centre, I have been able to teach in T.F.E (Training For Employment) which was a great opportunity.  I cannot praise the Centre enough as it taught me so much about work and life.  I feel so lucky to have found the Centre and worked there as it has changed my life for the better.


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