Meet an Education  Volunteer: Parastoo Tahmasebi

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Recently-retired database developer Parastoo Tahmasebi has two strengths that make the students of Dandenong High School appreciate her – her familiarity with Dari, an Afghan language, and her strong mathematical knowledge.

Dandenong High School is an incredibly multicultural co-educational school with over 1,700 students. At last count, it had 79 language groups represented at the school, Dari, being one of them. "A number of our students have recently migrated to Australia and have gaps in their schooling and learning experience which we are helping them to overcome,” explained the Learning Support Team Leader.

“The fact that Parastoo can communicate with our students in their own language really goes a long way in helping their learning. That she is great at Maths is a bonus!”

Parastoo migrated to Australia from Iran (via Italy) nearly 24 years ago. “I had studied Mathematics, and have always wanted to teach it. So upon retirement, I started to explore how to do that. However, I didn’t want to go back to university to study. Volunteering at Ardoch allows me to help students with Maths without going through a teaching degree first,” she explained.

Parastoo chose to volunteer at Dandenong High School because she wanted to support young people. “However, I immediately realised that my Persian background was an advantage,” she recalled. Many students at the school are of Afghan background. “Persian and Dari are similar enough for me to be able to speak to them, and often, they slip into Dari with me to explain where they have hit a learning road block,” explained Parastoo.

Parastoo’s observation is spot on. One Year 10 student, who arrived in Australia from Afghanistan three years ago, said that she found Maths really hard. She is currently attending special classes to catch up on her Maths before she enters the critical Year 11 and 12. Parastoo often helps out in the class. “I am currently working on probability, and it really helps that she [Parastoo] is there to help me,” she explained in broken English.

Parastoo doesn’t know if her presence has really improved the Maths skills of the students. “But when a teenager asks when I will be coming again to class, I know I have made a difference to their lives,” she says.

We thank Parastoo for supporting the education of young people in disadvantaged communities.

Ardoch is an education charity that supports children and young people in disadvantaged communities. You can help us by making a donation or signing up as a volunteer.