From the Director of Advancement

Interview with Alum Stephanie Rosier (2009)

Paul Galea: I believe you’re on a train at the moment. So we’re going to be hearing a few of those announcements on trains. We’ll just soldier on.

Stephanie Rosier: Yes. Thank you for that. I’m sorry.

Paul Galea: Now, Stephanie, do you mind telling us, first of all, what year did you leave IGS and then tell us what you’ve been doing in the time since then.

Stephanie Rosier: I graduated in 2009 and after I graduated I went straight to uni and I did a Bachelor of Arts degree and then changed to a Bachelor of Languages because I was majoring in two languages. The first one was Japanese, which I studied at IGS and the other one I started at university, which was Korean. I wanted the opportunity to go on exchange, which is why I changed to a Bachelor of Languages degree.

Paul Galea: Did you go on exchange? And where to and tell us about that?

Stephanie Rosier: I went to Tokyo on exchange for six months. I wish it had been longer, but that was the university’s arrangement. I lived in an international dormitory there, and it was really fun because I met people from all around the world and I could communicate with them only in Japanese because a lot of them didn’t really speak very good English. At that time, I was also a beginner in Korean so I made some Korean friends, too, and I could practise my Korean together with them. So it was a really great experience.

Paul Galea: You did that during your university degree?

Stephanie Rosier: Yes. That was during my undergrad degree. Yes.

Paul Galea: Okay, so you’ve obviously come back to Australia, finished your degree. What happened then?

Stephanie Rosier: Yeah. So then I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. However, I knew that I wanted to do something with my language so I decided to do a training program for teaching English to adults, and I did that in Sydney, and at the same time, I was actually working as a dental nurse at a Japanese and Australian dental practice in the CBD. On a side note, on my first day there, I actually ran into my Japanese teacher from Year 6 at IGS, who happened to be a patient there. Her name is Masumi.

Paul Galea: I remember Masumi very well.

Stephanie Rosier: I think I had her as a teacher between Years 6 and maybe 8 when I was at IGS. The moment that she walked in, I recognised her, and she also recognised me and she said ‘Stephanie!’ and I was really happy that even though she hadn’t seen me since I was in Year 8, she still recognised me. I was about 21 or 22 at the time.

So after I did that certificate in teaching English to adults, I went to work in Korea because I wanted to improve my Korean language skills. With Japanese, I was already quite confident in communicating but in Korean, because it was a much newer language to me at the time, I didn’t have a lot of spoken confidence in the language.

So I went over there and got assigned to a high school in a place I’d never heard of before. So it was quite an adventure for me, because I assumed I was going to be going to a well known city, but I ended up in a city I didn’t know anything about and I was teaching there for one year, and it was my first experience teaching, basically.

Paul Galea: Then you got the bug. The bug for teaching?

Stephanie Rosier: Well, yeah. I really enjoyed the experience because I love learning languages myself. So teaching languages for me was really fun, even though I was teaching English, I was trying to come up with as many ways as I could to make it enjoyable for the students, and it was a bit of a challenge at first because there were 40 students in one class and on top of that, originally the arrangement was that the local Korean teacher would be in the room assisting me.

But they seemed to decide that they had better things to do so I was just kind of left by myself. The students were not much younger than me at that stage. And on top of that, their English level was very low so I decided to use a combination of Korean and English when I was teaching them. So it was really good for my Korean language development as well. The students were also really kind and welcoming, and I felt a lot less lonely once I got used to it over there. I still keep in touch with some of those students to this day, who are all now in their early twenties, which is older than I was when I was working back then.

Paul Galea: Oh, that’s lovely. That was a pretty brave decision to make to go over there and do that.

Stephanie Rosier: Yeah, but it was such a good experience for me because I was alone a lot of the time when I was there, because I lived by myself. I wasn’t living in a dormitory like I did in Japan so it was a completely different type of experience. Not only did I get interested in teaching through that experience, but I also got inspired to live overseas in different places.

Paul Galea: Very nice.

Stephanie Rosier: Yes, after I got back to Sydney, I was working at a language school teaching adult English. I worked there for a few years, and, again, I did really enjoy that because I got to meet people from all around the world and from countries that I didn’t normally have much to do with.

So for example, people from Brazil, people from Colombia, from Portugal. There were people from Italy or Thailand or Mongolia. It was really interesting and also, quite nice, I think, as a new teacher, to be teaching adults. I could kind of refine a lot of my skills in the classroom without having to deal with teenagers and was dealing with the adults, who are a lot more understanding.

A lot of them were older than me so they just appreciated it if you were prepared and if you knew the English grammar and how to teach them. I had to study the grammar myself in order to do that. So it also gave me an appreciation for how difficult it is to learn English and also, it kind of reminded me of what it’s like to be a beginner when learning a language. So, yeah, it was a great experience.

I then started a Masters of Teaching, while I was doing that, so that I could become a High School teacher. I decided to choose Korean and Japanese as my two teaching subjects. Not sure if it was a great choice to have Korean as my second one, just because of how few schools actually had Korean at that stage, but in saying that, it was funny, because in the years that have gone since, Korean has become a much more popular language for students.

I think it’s because Korea decided to really market its pop culture to the world, so it made a lot of things available and easily accessible, you know, through, YouTube, Netflix and things like that whereas Japan never really has done that. I think they have a big internal market and do not really do a lot of searching for fans and promotions overseas.

Since then, I finished my Masters, and then I worked for one year, working at a High School in Castle Hill, as a Japanese teacher. But after that I really wanted to go overseas to work again. By then, I was already married. So I got married in 2017 to my husband who’s Japanese. But he’s been here for a long time. We wanted to go somewhere else, so I started to look for jobs at International Schools and I got a job in Singapore, as an English teacher; like a foreign language teacher.

And it was interesting because one of the deciding factors for the school, when they were hiring me, was that I spoke Japanese and Korean, and that was because they had a lot of students, because it was an international school, from Japan and Korea at the school, and they thought that it would be helpful to have somebody who could communicate in the first language of the students and also, possibly, when necessary, communicate with parents or kind of be a mediator in certain situations.

If the students got in trouble and then they couldn’t speak English very well to communicate what happened, I could kind of be in between the the Deputy and the student, which did happen. And also for translating for the parents in the meeting where the students were in trouble. So it was quite interesting.

Paul Galea: I’ve had about one million of those meetings, and they’re hard enough without doing it with someone who doesn’t understand what you’re saying!

Stephanie Rosier: Yeah, a bit awkward, because the parents kind of look like they’re getting angry at me, but I was like, “I’ve got nothing to do with this. I’m just here as a translator.” It was also a Primary School, and it was my first opportunity to work with little kids, between the ages of seven and eleven, and at first it was a big adjustment, and also, I was kind of thrown into the deep end because I didn’t really have any prior training in Primary School teaching. So I just had to kind of adjust to it for the first six months and figure out what ways were best for teaching little kids.

There was a lot of dancing and singing and just activities that would get the students involved. I also actually worked in Hiroshima in Japan before I went to Singapore, teaching Primary School students. So I had a little intro to it there before I went to Singapore, I guess but in Singapore, it was a much more formal situation. I needed to make sure I was doing a good job.

It was also the start of COVID at that time and it became quite difficult to do things on the weekend, and yeah, we decided that it was probably a good decision to come back to Australia.

Paul Galea: Well, I think a lot of people made that decision. Stephanie. I think it was a game changer for many, many people. You’re teaching at the moment, is that correct?

Stephanie Rosier: Yes. So basically, I now work at a High School and I also work at the School of Languages, which is like a distance education school. I work there one day a week, and I teach Korean there.

Paul Galea: And teaching Japanese at the other school? That’s really good. Now I see you are really a student of International Grammar, with an international outlook and teaching languages and everything. You live the IGS life, that’s for sure. Now, speaking of IGS life, are you still in contact with my old friend Nhi Tran?

Stephanie Rosier: She actually works for the same company as my husband. Nexxia is an accounting firm but they needed somebody in the IT division and my husband’s in IT so when we got back from Singapore she just contacted me because she knew I was coming back and she knew what my husband does. So she just contacted us, and it ended up that he started working there.

Paul Galea: That’s a bit crazy, because one of my best mates is the managing director of Nexxia, and I introduced her to him.

Stephanie Rosier: Really?

Paul Galea: Yeah. And as you know, she’s one impressive young woman, and she’s been working there ever since. So, she’s been there a long time now, I think. So that’s that’s an interesting connection. Okay, and another one of the things I know about you is that you’re involved in something called Green Bird. Now do you want to explain to us what that’s all about?

Stephanie Rosier: Yes. So one of my other interests and passions is definitely the environment. When I was at IGS my favourite subject, apart from Japanese, was Geography and I happened to have a great Geography teacher. I think the only assignment I remember doing from High School was a Year 10 or 11 Geography assignment on urban decay and I got to go around Sydney to take photos of all these examples of it. I can’t remember all the details, but I do remember I think I got 100 per cent.

The thing is that some of the topics that we studied got me really interested in the environment and I wanted to do something to basically improve the rubbish situation in Sydney because, having lived in Japan, where everything is really clean and you don’t really see any rubbish on the streets at all.

I wanted to bring that idea to Sydney. So there’s a Japanese organisation. It’s in a “not for profit” organisation called Green Bird and I saw them being interviewed on TV and I contacted them. They said I can set up a Sydney team, and the good thing about it is that it kind of brings together people from the Japanese speaking community and also obviously non Japanese speaking people.

And the goal is to make the city cleaner. So we hold a monthly cleanup event in the CBD. The reason that we’re doing the CBD is because first of all, it’s accessible for people from wherever they happen to live and then also because it kind of draws awareness. Everybody’s wearing these Green Bird bibs, and we’ve got the Greenberg gloves and tongs that they sent from Japan. I’d like to basically get more people involved because it’s just raising awareness about how much rubbish really is existing there. And the fact that that gets into the ecosystem.

Paul Galea: What we’re going to do is put the link here.


And if people want to get involved, they can get involved by getting in contact. I think as well, what would be a really good thing if we’ve got kids who are doing Japanese? What a great way to practise your Japanese. So, I mean, it could be a really interesting thing for people in our community, so that sounds very good. Steph, as I said to you before, you are a poster girl for International Grammar.

Languages, living and working overseas and also having a great idea of social justice in terms of the environment. So in terms of all that, well, you are a very nice product of our school. Have you got any advice that you’d like to give to our younger students that you think might help them on their path to what they’re doing?

Stephanie Rosier: Well, I think I can give advice on learning languages. And I think that is that it’s a really long process, and sometimes it takes a long time to see the result. It’s really something that you have to just persevere at, not give up and eventually just wait to basically have a completely different outlook on life and meet lots of different people through being able to speak another language.

I always remind my students now that language is kind of like doing exercise because you have to do it regularly if you want to see the results. You have to practise regularly to build up your muscles just like you’re building up your language skills and just keep going with it, even if it’s tough, because I think it’s one of the skills that you can combine with any career. And it’s one thing that a lot of adults wish that they had. They wish that they could speak another language when they can’t and so just keep going.

Paul Galea: That is very good advice. And you know what I know from my own life? One of my big regrets is I never properly learned to speak a language. So, Stephanie, really lovely to talk to you.