Heleana talks about English language and early education (2:16)

Hello my name name is Heleana Gulwa. I’m using my traditional tribal name which is Gulwa. It’s my great-great-grandfather name and Gulwa comes from Cape Stuart. And it’s my grandmother country, which is  Nakara country. 

I now work at Maningrida. I’ll tell you about my experience with education and growing up.  Firstly it’s all about my culture, learning and understanding culture.  I grew up all through Arnhem Land.  As a child I went to school at Batchelor.  My first experience there was in a classroom and because coming from the bush and Arnhem Land, we used to speak all several different languages and when I walked into the classroom, I felt like I was different.  They all treated me sameand equal but I felt uncomfortable and felt like I was in a corner. 

And the issue there was language.  They were speaking English. I could not understand and alphabet – I did not know what alphabet was.  And would sing it but I’d always stuff up and then I’d go each day but I kept running away.

Why did you keep running away?

I – language again.  Every day we was doing the same things but I could not understand English and there was no other person - Aboriginal person in the classroom, it was all non-Indigenous people in the classroom and I was only one there.  They were all friendly and you know nice to me and they wasn’t mean or anything to me but I felt uncomfortable, in this different world.  It still is now that I’ve grown up.  I still feel – coming out of Arnhem Land it’s a different world.  I call it two worlds.