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Commercial Education Society of Australia

Hong Kong

I CAME to Australia from Hong Kong to study in the 1980s. My course included shorthand, shorthand speed, typing, bookkeeping and office practice. I did all of my exams through the Commercial Education Society of Australia.

I had heard of it vaguely because a few people I knew at school had done the CESA typing exams. They found that they could get better jobs with a CESA certificate.

I am an Australian citizen now. I’ll tell you how it all began.

My family crossed the border from southern China to Hong Kong. Three of my brothers and my sister were born in China. My youngest brother and I were born in Hong Kong. My family did not have a house. We lived on the side of a hill in a cardboard house for the first four years of my life. This was just over the border from China. My father took any kind of work that was offered, mostly building and construction jobs, and my mother worked as a dishwasher in two of the local restaurants. After four years we were able to move into a two-bedroom flat. My parents, and, when they were old enough, my older sister and brother, worked in order to give my brothers and me a better education. I am the second last child.

The CESA exams were the start of a successful career, and a successful life.

The college picked me up at the airport and took me to stay with an Australian family. It was so different to my own family, especially the food! They were so nice to me and tried hard to make me feel not so lonely. They took me to the college the next day and I was lucky that there were a few Hong Kong girls like me studying the course. Once I started studying, we were told that we would be sitting for CESA exams in all our subjects.

I was learning shorthand theory, but sometimes the sounds were hard to work out for me and sometimes I could not “hear” the sounds because they don’t exist in Chinese. I managed to get through the shorthand theory, but the worst was yet to come. That was shorthand speed. After 70 wam, the teacher only read Hansard and that was so hard. Sometimes I would cry when I got home because no matter how hard I tried, I could not keep up the speed, or I could not understand all the sounds. Eventually, I did reach 120 wam in English. My parents were so proud of my achievement and so were my teachers.

The bookkeeping exams were not as bad because I liked numbers and I wanted, one day, to have my own business. This became true later on. I also sat for office practice exams and for typing exams. I enjoyed typing because the teacher would challenge the typing room in a 10-second drill. You had to see how many sentences you could type accurately in 10 seconds. My CESA typing certificate was 62 wam.

I met my husband while I was a student because he was a manager of a club that had a Chinese restaurant in it. We married later on and have a family of two boys and one girl. We have had several businesses in which my training and CESA qualifications have been vital.

Last year I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education. I still keep in contact with my teacher. The CESA exams were the start of a successful career, and a successful life. And, yes, my parents enrolled my younger brother into the same college in Sydney. He now has a property business and uses the skills he learnt and succeeded in with the CESA exams.

© Copyright CESA August 2013