Our Volunteers: Marilyn Tangey volunteering in Timor-Leste

Agriculture in MoleanaEskola Teknika Agrikola (ETA) Maliana

East Timor’s population of 1 million still largely rely upon agriculture as both the source of their own food and as a major source of income. Crops vary from staples such as rice, corn and sweet potato to cash crops for export such as coffee and vanilla. While other industries, such as tourism and oil offer opportunities to build Timor’s economy, for the majority of people, agricultural skills will remain of vital importance.

Eskola Teknika Agrikola is an agricultural college in Maliana run by Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. ETA offers courses to students of the region to develop their agricultural skills, ranging from crop management and animal husbandry to small business and communication skills.

The Ministry placed a request with Palms Australia for a School Administration Advisor to work with ETA to improve the administration and management systems, provide training in basic computer skills, enhance communication with other agricultural schools and neighbouring communities, and assist with performance monitoring.

Marilyn Tangey

Palms Australia recruited Marilyn Tangey to fill the request of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Marilyn brings over 30 years experience in education in Victoria, including classroom Science and Mathematics teaching, Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Applied Learning (VCAL) programs, regional program administration and mentoring and training teachers and principals.

Eskola Teknika Agrikola and Palms Australia believe Marilyn is very well suited to the task.

Marilyn’s placement costs are partially supported by AusAID’s volunteer fund, but Palms Australia needs your support to cover the remainder of the costs. Please use the donation link on the right hand side of this web-page to contribute.

Learning and teaching

May 14, 2013

Marilyn, Sr Maria and studentsIn Timor Leste I have learnt that everyone is adaptable and willing to change. The latest change in education is that the academic year will now begin in October, instead of January, reverting to the schedule that was followed only three years ago. Secondary final exams in 2012 began in late October. This year they must be completed two to three months earlier. How would our Australian teachers cope if this was imposed on them without notice, no lead time? What will it mean for curriculum delivery in 2013 and student performance? The Timorese will find solutions, including cancelling the semester break if necessary.

As well as the administrative tasks I also deliver English lessons for the staff, meeting each group twice a week for formal lessons. I am a trained Maths and Science teacher so I needed to re-learn English grammar myself. My early cry was, “What is a past participle? A retired Principal, perhaps!” I make sure that I use a range of teaching techniques to model best practice. We read, talk and write every lesson. The ‘students’ have taught me so much about the history of Timor Leste and the cultural practices in this society. I use the stories I hear, reading and writing activities to teach grammar.

It is perhaps not during these formal lessons where the most productive learning takes place. On a daily basis I chat with staff and share experiences with them. I work hard every day and show that I am prepared to assist with anything – loading the car for a picnic; attending mathematics lessons as an assistant; sweeping the room after morning tea; taking a class when the English teacher is absent; washing the dishes with the students after a celebration dinner; cooking a meal for the Sisters and teaching them how to prepare my version of Aussie tucker.

There is a strong hierarchical structure in the society with young women sometimes being treated poorly and old foreigners like me being given all the privileges. Domestic violence is recognised as a major issue. Equality and respect for women leads to better conditions for all members of the society, when everyone is working together to achieve better health and education for all. I hope that the presence of volunteers from Australia will encourage Timorese to take positive elements from our culture.

Marilyn is volunteering at Instituto Profissional De Canossa, providing training in administration and English language education. This is her second placement with Palms in Timor-Leste.


A volunteer’s life is never mundane

March 18, 2013

A young woman, who graduated from IPDC only in December, had died and people needed to go to her village. I did not need to know more so prepared for the day’s travel, checking the car’s water, oil and filling up the fuel tank.

Click here to read the full article

A Grassroots Approach to Development

August 10, 2012

Palms Australia continues to receive requests for volunteers from grass roots communities and organisations to assist build capacities across the health, education and agricultural sectors.

Click here to read the full article

More articles

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Timor-Leste

Population: 1,292,755

Area: 15,007 sq. km.

Median Age: 21.5

Literacy: 58.6 %

Languages: Tetum, Portuguese, Indonesian, about 16 indigenous languages

A brief history of independence. mid 1500s – Timor colonised by Portugal 1859 – Portugal cedes West Timor to the Dutch 1942-1945 – Japan occupies East Timor 28 November 1975 – East Timor declared independent from Portugal 7 December 1975 – invaded and occupied by Indonesia. It is estimated that 100,000 to 250,000 were killed […]

More on Timor-Leste

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. - African proverb