Discover how rewarding it is to provide one-on-one support to students.

Being a learning partner keeps me true to my own lifelong learning journey. It is a gift. 
Clemente learning partner

Beth and I started our journey as Learning Partners in the Clemente Program in 2018.  Both of us saw this as a wonderful opportunity to help and share our skills. We both had teaching experience, however Beth hadn’t taught for 45 years and was nervous and apprehensive.

The entire experience has been exciting and enriching. Doing the readings each week, whether they be on literature or philosophy has led to many interesting discussions both inside and outside the classes. We soon learnt that the students all had a variety of needs ranging from help with reading over responses, analysing questions, basic computer literacy, encouragement to keep going, reminders to meet deadlines, discussions of their next step in their studies or career.

We both discovered that many of the students were extremely bright and to see them presenting excellently researched philosophical work to their fellow students from the front of the class and performing Anthony and Cleopatra were such memorable experiences.

The benefits of doing this are numerous for me: self awareness, experiencing greater compassion and connectedness with a part of our community from which we are often most separate. I continue to gain insight into lifestyles, life experiences and circumstances of people I would otherwise never have the opportunity to understand or learn from. I am more optimistic about positive changes being possible in the world.

Tony and Beth, Clemente learning partners

In the lead up to the performance, Cara and I met with participants to encourage, motivate and assist them with their studies. We are no experts in drama, but hopefully provided some assistance in just being there to bounce ideas off, help with planning work and provide encouragement.

Allie, Clemente learning partner

We are not sure the participants realise the significant impact they have on our lives. It has been a privilege to meet each participant and be able to have an insight into their amazing lives and personalities.

Cara, Clemente learning partner

Hopefully the program has empowered participants to see the future as an endless number of possibilities awaiting them as this is the outlook the participants have inspired in us. I have enjoyed discovering the wonderful personalities of all the participants who have made me laugh and cry since I met them and provided me with strength and optimism.
Clemente learning partner

Earl Shorris visited Australia in 2003 and I was present at a talk he gave. Shortly after Earl Shorris’ visit the Australian Catholic University in collaboration with the St Vincent de Paul Society offered the first Clemente in Australia at the Vincentian centre at East Sydney.  They were given financial assistance from The Sisters of Charity Foundation and the Sydney City Council.  This was my first involvement with the program.

In 2014, when I returned to Sydney, I volunteered with the Clemente program… I go to Strathfield on one or two days a week and meet with three to five students each week on a one-to-one basis for one to two hours…

My role is to provide help and encouragement to the students. This might mean helping them interpret a question, discussing their assignments, reading assignments, pointing out that they haven’t answered the question, spelling needs to be checked or a reminder to add references or acknowledge work quoted. Sometimes it is just providing a listening ear over a coffee. A student will often email or phone at home me when a problem arises with their assignments.

The time I give to the Clemente students I find very rewarding. I get far more from them than I give to them.

Sr Maria Wheeler, Sisters of Charity

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