Hasiba Ghulami and Benise Ntasharha: Aspiring Pilots
Aspiring pilots, Benise and Hasiba, recently took to the skies as part of the MY (Multicultural Youth) Step into Work Program
For many people, high school work experience means sorting files at a law firm, or hands on experience in a workshop. For 17-year-olds Benise Ntasharha and Hasiba Ghulami of Elizabeth College, it meant taking the controls of a light aircraft.
Benise was born in Rwanda and grew up in the Congo while Hasiba hails from Afghanistan. They arrived in Tasmania in 2015 and 2014 respectively. Neither could speak a word of English when they first began a new life on Australian soil.
“I couldn’t even say hello,” laughs Benise. “I was in Grade 7, but fortunately I came across a teacher who spoke French at my school on Hobart’s Eastern Shore, which really helped.”
It was on her way to Australia that Benise discovered she’d love to fly. For the first time ever, she saw an African female commercial pilot. At that moment she knew this was the path she wanted to pursue.
“It was a mathematics teacher at the school who believed in me when I said I’d like to become a pilot that gave me the strength and confidence to choose this career. I wanted to be a hip-hop dancer, but deep down a pilot was my dream,” says Benise.
Hasiba also wanted to fly from a very early age. “As a female in Afghanistan it was very hard to get out into society and do what you want,” explains Hasiba. “The opportunities here in Australia are vast. There is such freedom and I feel very lucky to be able to reach for my goals here.”
MY Step into Work offers work experience opportunities, career advice and training to support young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds to develop skills in their chosen career, often partnering with local businesses. Courtesy of a collaboration between the Migrant Resource Centre Tasmania, Headspace Hobart and Par Avion Flight Training, Benise and Hasiba recently had the opportunity to sit in the pilot seat on a trial flight, which included take off, flying and turning the aircraft. Although the students did not land, it was a chance to take the controls and experience the sensation of flying a plane alongside a qualified instructor.
“When I was first taking off, my heart went bumpy! It was so exciting,” describes Hasiba. “When in the air it was just amazing. I was even invited to fly over my house and look down over my school where I took Pilot Studies in Year 8. It was then that I told my teacher I wanted to be a pilot. I want to inspire other young women around the world that they can do anything, too.”
Benise and Hasiba did not know each other at Elizabeth College until their pilot career paths crossed and now they are firm friends. Both are committed to their studies, which include high level mathematics and physics among other recommended subjects, and they aspire to join the Air Force.
Becoming a qualified pilot takes at least for 12 years through the Air Force route, but they are happy to perform other roles in pursuit of their ultimate goal.
Through Elizabeth College and with support from programs at the Migrant Resource Centre Tasmania, such as Multicultural Youth Tasmania, the aspiring pilots are guided through their career steps. From pathways to citizenship, to work experience, to subject selections and the Air Force application process, Benise and Hasiba are supported throughout the journey. They note that other migrant students are pursuing the likes of nursing, engineering, teaching and medicine.
“My father didn’t believe me when I said I’m going to be a pilot,” laughs Benise. “My mother is a very positive woman and said I should go for it, so when I had the chance to fly, I felt this was a sign I’m definitely going to become a pilot. If I was in Africa, I would see it as a dream. Here, I see it as a goal and reality. I’m so grateful to be in Tasmania and have this opportunity.”
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.
For primary and secondary education, you can find information on government schools by visiting Study Tasmania, and for non-government schools see Independent Schools of Tasmania, and Tasmanian Catholic Education Office.
If you have questions about the practical aspect of making Tasmania your new home, the Migrant Resource Centre’s Information and Referral Service may be able to help.