An interview with Khun Sompong and Khun Kornthip Seangsirirote

CETA guardians based in Melbourne

Ms. Kornthip Guyathbencharong and
Mr. Sompong Saengsirirojn

Nationality: Thai

Related Experience: Being a guardian for international students for more than 6 years

Message to students: We have worked with CETA as a guardian for more than 6 years. We look after the students, both boys and girls, like our own family. We focus on their welfare and settlement. We usually give students the advice straight away about what is right, what is wrong and especially, about their friends – which we have found that it is the very important thing. All of them trust us and can tell us everything.

On being a guardian

Frankly, we are proud to be CETA guardians entrusted with the care of CETA students. We take our responsibility very seriously since the students that come to study in Australia and that are placed in our care are under 18 years of age. Being their guardians, we must always be aware that we are representing their parents.  We try to behave as their parents, relatives, friends and even mentors if necessary. As their guardians, we encourage them to recognise what we can do for them. The key is to give them love and understanding as this can help children to feel confident to develop themselves.

Main duties of being a guardian

All about school  We always keep track of our students’ school activities, especially those that that need parental input, such as parent/teacher interviews. By attending these and maintaining a relationship with the school, we can monitor the progress of the students’ studies like any parent would. School reports reveal the students’ habits and behaviours, such as their attentiveness to the subject, their relationship with classmates, teachers and the host family. This information is shared with the students’ parents.

Health and safety  If students are not feeling well while in school, their teacher or school nurse will inform the guardian; if the child is very sick, we, the guardian, will take the child to the hospital. Equally, if students are not feeling well while at home, the host families or the children themselves will inform the guardian then either we or the host family will take the child to see the doctor. Taking into account that when kids are sick, they may be feeling homesick and missing their parents, we call to inquire about the child’s recovery. It is only when the children themselves tell us they are fully recovered, that we can relax!

In terms of the children’s safety and welfare while being away from their parents, we try to teach the children to know what is right and wrong, particularly when making friends. We believe that having good friends is crucial. If you have good friends, you will be good too. But if you are friends with “the wrong sort,” it can have an equally negative impact. Therefore, as their guardians, we place a high priority on this.

Care and assistance for the children  Like any parent, we want our children to live life as decent human beings. We need to give them love, and be sincere and warm to the children as if they were our own. We want all the children under our guardianship to meet and get to know each and everyone as if they are in the same family, by using our home as a focal point for this. Here, they can talk to each other to help solve whatever problems they are facing. And we will be there to support and guide them with an adult’s perspective to help distinguish the advantages and disadvantages of each solution.