Community radio: Making connections

(caption for the above picture: Thi Phan, with her daughter Kim Van, and Ba Cuong)

Presented in the Vietnamese language, the Plains FM96.9 radio programme “Nhip Cau Thong Tin” (“Making Connections”) provides the opportunity to obtain information on settling and integrating into a new country for Vietnamese people living in Canterbury, as well as possible immigrants still living Vietnam who are being given access to podcasts of the show. Some of them download the podcasts and listen to them in their own time.

The weekly half-hour programme, which is broadcast in Christchurch at 7pm on Mondays and 4.30pm on Sundays, was started on Plains FM six months ago by a Vietnamese group led by Thi Phan, her daughter Kim Van, and Ba Cuong.

"..consider ourselves ambassadors between New Zealand and Vietnam, making the relationship stronger by bringing people of the two countries closer.."

A Vietnamese-English interpreter, Thi has seen many cases of Vietnamese people lacking the information required to settle in New Zealand. Unfortunately, information gained from friends or through other informal channels can sometimes be incorrect or misleading.

Being aware of the importance of providing a radio programme without a language barrier for the Vietnamese community, Thi Phan approached Plains FM and also gained support from the funding agency, Settling In.

“People in Vietnam do not know much about New Zealand or what kind of support is here for them. Through this programme, they know there is support that can help them study, work and live here – just as it helps the Vietnamese already living here,” noted Thi.

“My daughter and I have been in New Zealand for nearly four years and saw the language barrier as one of the biggest problems. Now, we know we can go to Hagley Community College, English Language Partners, the Ara Institute or PEETO, at the_Multi-Cultural Centre, to learn how to understand and speak Kiwi English, with its slang.”

“It takes several years to settle in and it’s very much a struggle to look for support, to get a job, to understand what your IRD number is. You even have to learn to adapt to the climate – how to keep warm.”

Presented in Vietnamese, “Nhip Cau Thong Tin” deals with all these issues.

Now presented mainly by 20-year-old Kim, the programme is responsive to the needs and requests of the community, providing interviews, discussions and community notices that tell people:
• where to go to a doctor;
• where to find child care;
• how to save power;
• how not to burn in the summer sun;
• how to mingle with society;
• how to rent a house and sign rental agreements;
• where to find the Citizens Advice Bureau for help;
• how to drive a car; and
• where to look for a job.

After overcoming many challenges as a newcomer in New Zealand, including job-seeking and adapting to a new living environment, Thi now works at Hagley Community College to support migrants, refugees and students.

Meanwhile, Kim is entering her third year of International Business studies at the University of Canterbury.

A census in 2013 found that there was a total of 6660 Vietnamese now living in New Zealand. Out of these, about 600 reside in Christchurch, with many on student or work visas.

“We consider ourselves ambassadors between New Zealand and Vietnam, making the relationship stronger by bringing people of the two countries closer,” concluded Thi.

- Hans Petrovic

RadioMigrants CentreComment