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Commercial Education Society of Australia


MY name is Solate. I come from Fiji. I was 19 years old when my family decided that I should study in Sydney. I was enrolled in a business college in Sydney and I stayed with my aunty and her family. My family thought that I would have better opportunities if I studied in Australia.

I was the only Fijian girl in the college. I was the only one with really fuzzy hair so I really stood out. The first thing I noticed was how cold it was in winter. I was always freezing even though I had a thick coat and always wore a scarf. Australian girls never seemed to be rugged up like me.

There were lots of other girls from other countries such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand—no others from Fiji. It was pretty lonely for me at the start. My teacher introduced me to other Australian girls and some of the Asian girls. I made friends with two of the Australian girls and to this day we still keep in touch, mostly through Skype.

The students at the college sat for the CESA exams. I had not heard of them, but I saw one of the certificates as an example and it looked so important. It had a big symbol on it, and I later found out it was called a crest.

The CESA exams made me a success. Without them, I would not have gotten the start that I had.

I sat for bookkeeping, office practice and typing exams. I have several CESA typing exam certificates because my speed went up. The bookkeeping exam and the office practice exam had Beginner, Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced levels. My certificates are Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced level and my typing started at Beginner level and eventually went up to Advanced level. I had to ask my parents to send some money so that I could sit for the exams. Even though they were struggling financially, they found the money because they believed I would have a better future.

When I returned to Fiji armed with all my certificates and the fact that I had studied in Australia, I was offered a job in a small department store as an administrative assistant. That meant that I had to do all the bookkeeping for the store, and put all the files into workable order, as well as talk to creditors and debtors. My job also meant that I had to do a Profit and Loss Statement and Balance Sheet every month. Every two months the owner and the other co-owners had a meeting and I was required to type up the Minutes. I had to take notes and then type them. There was a part of office practice that showed you how to take Minutes and how to write them up correctly. I can remember thinking at the time that I would never have to do that!

The CESA exams made me a success. Without them, I would not have gotten the start that I had. I would not have had the opportunity to deal with as many people, not just Fijians, but later on with international businessmen. CESA gave me the opportunity to travel beyond Fiji—something unusual for a Fijian girl to do.

I have only happy memories of my time studying in Australia and feel that I was lucky to have the opportunity to do the CESA exams. They were the start to my life.

© Copyright CESA August 2013