Jeanne Mwikiza is happy to have a chance to meet new people and become part of the local community.
After moving to Hamilton in July 2018, Ms Mwikiza joined the Language Cafe to make friends and help improve her English language skills.
Moving with her five sons, Ms Mwikiza is trying to find a place to settle down after migrating to Australia from Congo in 2009.
The Language Cafe was started in 2017 by Carly Jordan as part of the Great South Coast Economic Migration Project.
After spending five years overseas as an aid worker, Mrs Jordan wanted to continue to use her skills to help encourage economic growth and population diversity when she settled in Hamilton.
She has now helped settle four families, all from Africa, around Hamilton.
“The Language Cafe is a way of supporting what we are doing,” Mrs Jordan said.
“We take an intercultural approach. We make sure that people have links with the community and are starting to build relationships.
“The Language Cafe is key to this.”
Mrs Jordan said it has been especially important for wives and partners, who can become isolated when families move to new communities.
Former English as a second language teacher Lynette Tung understands the difficulties of migrating to a new community well.
Originally from Hong Kong, she has worked “for decades” helping people learn English, and believes that lack of language skill is the biggest hurdle for new migrants to overcome.
Even simple tasks such as going to the supermarket can be difficult for new migrants.
“I have heard stories of people buying pet food to eat,” Mrs Tung said. “They just thought it was cheap meat.
“A lot depends on their education background in their home country.
“If they only have three to four years of schooling then they may not have the learning skills.”
The relaxed nature of the Language Cafe helps people to open up and talk about their problems.
People have the opportunity to talk about day-to-day living, children’s health or other issues.
Building the informal social networks is a key part of the cafe. Hamilton Language Cafe events are held monthly and all community members are welcome.