Scoop Review of Books

The First Door That Opened


PRESS RELEASE:‘It is very kind to give the new migrants such a chance to practice. You can feel that…people don’t accept you. Because your English is not so good, they think you know nothing.’ Ping Ping Pan is talking about volunteering with a ‘kind friendly organisation’ after her search for work where she found people less friendly towards migrants.

Her story is one of four in-depth interviews with newcomers to New Zealand featured in ‘The first door that opened; experiences of migrants in Wellington’s volunteer sector.’ Written by Rebecca Gray the book will be launched by The Governor-General the Honourable Anand Satyanand on Monday 21 April at Wellington City Council Chambers Foyer. Among other speakers will be The Minister of Ethnic Affairs Chris Carter and the Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon.

Produced by Volunteer Wellington, published by Steele Roberts and edited by Mark Derby ‘The first door that opened’ takes readers on a journey of ‘settlement’ for these four new New Zealanders.

Amit is from India, Nadia is Iraqi, Ping Ping is from China and Astrad from Germany. Volunteering for this group has sometimes been a desperate step – ‘I was bored being at home and needed a chance to use my skills and knowledge’ – sometimes a planned choice, sometimes the sort of option someone makes when there is nowhere else to go.

But throughout Rebecca Gray’s book there is a sense of what the community and voluntary sector has to offer and what, in turn, migrants have to give in terms of new skills, approaches and cultural enrichment; and that ultimately these volunteers have settled into New Zealand as happier people for having worked in a sector which is about causes and quality of life.

The aim behind producing the book, is to have available in the marketplace an accessible story. ‘A story,’ says Rebecca Gray, ‘ which can be re-told and re-used to encourage others to choose this journey into the surprising world of volunteering; and also to create more awareness among community organisations of the diverse skills and experiences new migrants bring with them.’

Anyone with an interest in migrant and refugee settlement, employment and issues relating to ‘settling in’ is welcome to the launch of ‘The first door that opened.’ Time, Monday 21 August 5 pm to 7 pm; venue, Wellington City Council Chambers Foyer. The book will be for sale at special price of $15 at the launch.


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