A Mexico day was hosted recently by an English language and culture student at the Gunnedah Anglican Church, as a thank you for all the class had done for her.

Dibanhi Marsh switched roles from student to teacher when she set up the meeting room behind the church in Mexican items for a presentation.

Clothes, toys and an assortment of items were accompanied by delicious food.

It was an opportunity to showcase the country Ms Marsh was raised in and clear up common misconceptions.

“Sometimes in the news or in the movies a bad [representation] of Mexico [is portrayed] … it is a very beautiful country,” she said.

Ms Marsh mentioned how a change in support system affected her when moving to Australia.

“My husband is from Gunnedah and all of his family live very far away like in Darwin, Brisbane and Melbourne,” she said.

“When I arrived here, I was just by myself. I could not speak English, my husband was working all the time so I started [to get] depression.”

Helen Etherington and Dibanhi Marsh.

She arrived in Australia about three-and-a-half years ago, during the peak of COVID when people were unable to gather in groups.

It impacted her ability to learn English and Australian culture.

That changed when she found the Gunnedah class.

The group consists of women from all walks of life, some of who were not fluent in English when arriving in Australia.

It helps people build up their English conversation skills and find others in similar situations.

Helen Etherington from the Gunnedah Anglican Church has seen the class’ potential shine through.

“People who move to Gunnedah do not know how things work here, like school systems, place systems and how our healthcare works,” Ms Etherington said.

“It is hard enough for us as Gunnedah residents to access healthcare at the moment but can you imagine trying to do that in another language?

“When you empower women to have a go and do something different, then that does not just stay with one person. It always flows onto other people, whether that is family, neighbours or people at work.

“We gave these women the torch and it gave them a bit more power back.”

Gunnedah Anglican Church vicar Simon Waller saw it as a responsibility of the Anglican Church to help.

“We want people who are from cultures other than our own to understand some of the foundations of Australian culture, which is based on Christianity,” he said.

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