Every SAIL tutor is ideally assigned to one SAIL student whom they work with each week on a variety of educational activities. Tutors may also work in pairs, or with a group of students. Each session typically involves helping students with their literacy, numeracy and a broad array of other academic and interpersonal skills. SAIL supports a community with diverse needs, catering to each individual student, rather than proscribing to any one particular curriculum.
Our students are refugees from Sudan or are first generation Australians whose parents and older siblings sought refuge after fleeing conflict in Sudan. Many of our students’ families have a history of experiencing extreme hardship and trauma, arriving in Australia from refugee camps in Kenya, Uganda or in Egypt.
SAIL works directly with the South Sudanese community, encompassing students of all ages across Australia. Every SAIL student has individual needs that are far ranging, from early childhood literacy practise through to tertiary level exam study. All our students have incredible potential, and often inspire others with their achievements.
There is no such thing as ‘Sudanese’ as a language. Many of the students speak a colloquial version of Arabic known as Juba Arabic, which is the ‘official’ language in Sudan. Others speak languages local to their home region. By some estimates, Sudan has over 915 tribal languages. The Dinka, Nuer and Bari languages are spoken by many of our students. Some also speak Swahili, where they have spent time in Kenya or Uganda before coming to Australia.
The levels of English are greatly varied, and depend on many factors, including how long they have been in Australia, whether or not they had any English lessons before coming here and how much (if any) English their parents speak. There are children as young as three, or five, who are bilingual, while some adults are illiterate, not only in English but in their first language as well.
SAIL is a completely volunteer-run organisation, including all Overseeing Coordinators, Campus Coordinators, tutors, kitchen helpers, as well as many other volunteers who all contribute their time and energy to help make SAIL thrive.
Coordinators are present each week at every campus, and part of their role is to assist tutors by providing suggestions, examples and techniques, as well as disseminate any available resources. External professionals are sometimes invited to SAIL to give talks to help provide further educational advice.
SAIL does not have a set curriculum and does not ‘measure’ the progress of students academic achievements. All tutors are encouraged to lead each session and to come to SAIL each week prepared with a lesson plan for their student.
It is not a requirement to attend SAIL every week of the year; however, it is important to understand that the success of SAIL in providing educational support and mentoring depends heavily upon reliability of our volunteers, which allows us to build strong student-tutor pairings. For this reason, SAIL is looking for volunteers who are able to consistently attend and are willing to make SAIL a priority for a few hours each Saturday morning.
We appreciate that SAIL volunteers lead busy and diverse lives and that attendance every week cannot be guaranteed. We ask that in these situations, that you always let the campus coordinator know in advance.