Sr Angela Nguyen calls Sacred Heart Catholic Primary Villawood her second home.
For 18 years she has worked as a teacher’s aide at the school, helping Kindergarten students with reading and Mathematics and translating for the members of the Vietnamese families who make up about 80 per cent of the school community, especially new parents.
Her constant presence at the school, welcoming to parents and visitors and invaluable to teachers and other staff, is a shared joke between the Year 6 students who go on to high school and return sometimes to visit. “They say ‘Sister how are you going? ‘ and I say ‘I’m still in Kindergarten. They ask why and I say ‘Because I can’t count, that’s why, and when I learn to count maybe I’ll move on to Year 1!” They all laugh.
“Before I came here to Villawood I worked in childcare for six years,” Sr Angela said. “Anything parents need or don’t understand they come to the office and ask for help. It’s good because the culture is different and sometimes I have to explain to them.
“One of the grandfathers had only been here a year, and he said he had never seen a principal walk out when the parents arrive in the car park and bow and say good morning and goodbye,” Sr Angela said. “He said ‘In Vietnam, no. The principal is very high and we have to bow and say hello to the principal’. Here the teachers are all friendly. It’s like a second home.”
A Sister of Our Lady of the Southern Cross Cabramatta, Sr Angela also helps with Sacred Heart’s parish activities including mass with the choir and preparing children for the sacraments of First Holy Communion, Confirmation and Reconciliation.
Principal Michelle Bourne said the school could not do without her. “Sr Angela really strengthens our lines of communication,” she said.
“She is very creative too, and makes all of the costumes for our whole school performance at the end of each year. They are amazing.”