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SECRETARIAT OF THE PACIFIC COMMUNITY (SPC) Noumea, New Caledonia Suva, Fiji Islands

PRESS RELEASE Noumea, New Caledonia May 15, 2000

Women of New Caledonia are bridging the gap between French and English speakers attending regional meetings, with the help of the English language training program organized by the Pacific Women's Resource Bureau (PWRB).

The level-two language-training program has been held for the last three years with the latest one-week workshop beginning this morning at the headquarters of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in Noumea. SPC Deputy Director-General Yves Corbel welcomed participants to the training program, and officially declared it open.

He said it is important for people of New Caledonia to improve their English skills through training such as is provided at the current workshop, to allow them to develop networks with anglophone countries of the region. He said this would also give the participants more confidence when dealing with their regional colleagues on women's issues.

SPC's Youth Development Adviser, Mr. Tangata Vainerere, Interim Director for the Women's Bureau, also took part in the opening ceremony.

For Rolande Trolue, PWRB's Women's Development Officer, the training fulfils a need to boost the communications skills of those who speak English as a second language.

"Most of the women we are targeting are those traveling to regional workshops where the language of communication is English," says Trolue. "The training program tries to give them the confidence to speak and set up networks with non-Francophone women and find the common issues that they share."

Trainers Andrea Williams and Rebecca Strouse will run most of the workshop, which this year carries the theme of domestic violence. This allows the ten women trainees to improve their grammar, reading, and pronunciation while gaining a deeper understanding of issues that affect their country. The group will visit women's and family-health centers in Noumea. Part of their practical work will include a mini-conference in English on domestic violence, with PWRB Communications Officer Lisa Williams.

For Rebecca Strouse, the key objective is communication rather than English language skills.

"If there's one word that could summarize what the women develop, it is confidence," says Strouse. "It doesn't matter what level they hold in English. The main thing is that they can talk to people, understand them, and carry on speaking in English."

The workshop ends this Saturday, May 20th.

Contact: Lisa Williams SPC/PWRB Communications Officer  LisaW@spc.int  

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