Overseas student leaders break down cultural barriers

Overseas student leaders break down cultural barriers

Forty international students have been selected as part of the City of Sydney’s first International Student Leadership and Ambassador Program.

The program gives the international student leaders training and mentoring to assist other students in need, as well as a chance to connect with the local community while they are studying in Australia.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the program would help create a warmer welcome for the thousands of international students who visit Sydney every year.

“This program will give international students a chance to engage with our community and receive training and mentoring,” the Lord Mayor said.

“It also allows us to build long-lasting relationships with the international student community.”

The City of Sydney’s 35,000-strong international student community is a major contributor to the City’s prosperity and liveability, generating more than $1.6 billion in economic activity and demand for over 10,000 full time jobs each year.

Challenges faced by international students include a lack of opportunities to engage with local communities and culture, language barriers, social isolation and negative perceptions of safety.

The International Student Leadership and Ambassador Program responds to these challenges by giving Sydney’s international student community the skills to become ambassadors and the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to their new city.

The 40 students taking part in this year’s program were chosen from 126 applications based on their past volunteer work, leadership experiences, involvement in university life and their interest in becoming student leaders.

The group includes students from 18 countries including China, Vietnam, Russia and India, and represents 11 educational institutions in the City and surrounding areas.

Tina Tran was born and raised in Vietnam, and after completing several exchange programs during high school, decided to complete her Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Sydney.

“Since my very first day here, I’ve constantly received support. But I’m aware there are international students who do not receive the support they need. I hope to play my part in providing them with support and advice,” Ms Tran said.

“As an ambassador, I’ll be able share my insights into life as a student in Sydney. I truly believe that Sydney is a great city to study and live in, and look forward to sharing my colourful journey with as many others as possible.”

Ishraque Chowdhury came to Sydney from his native Bangladesh to study civil engineering at the University of Technology, Sydney.

“I hope this program will not only help me adjust to the usual cultural shocks of being in a new country, but allow me to assist new international students coming to my university as well,” Mr Chowdhury said.

“This program is a great step forward considering the amount of international students that come here every year. To me, the experience is valuable as I’ll learn about important issues, and be able to share my experience and promote the community to those who are new.”

Education institutions participating in the program include the University of Sydney, the University of Technology, Sydney and the University of New South Wales, along with the city campuses of the Australian Catholic University, University of Wollongong, Charles Sturt University and Central Queensland University.

Over the next six months, the students will take part in training in cultural intelligence, communication and project management, as well as receiving mentoring and working as volunteers. They will also take part in a working group to bring an event or program to the public.

At the end of the program, they will graduate as City of Sydney student ambassadors.

For more information, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Advisor Keeley Irvin.
Phone 0448 005 718 or email kirvin@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Jonathon Larkin.
Phone 0477 310 149 or email jlarkin@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au