New ambassador program welcomes international students to Newcastle with open arms

A new International Student Ambassador initiative launched today in Newcastle aims to foster a culture of inclusion and belonging for all international students living and studying in the Hunter.

The program, co-facilitated by the University of Newcastle together with the City of Newcastle, Study NSW, and TAFE NSW has been developed to connect international students with the community through dedicated student ambassadors.

Three ambassadors have been elected to represent the voices of international students and will work closely with local government, educational institutions and the community to act as a bridge between cultures and enhance their experience living and studying in the region.

University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alex Zelinsky AO said the program would promote an inclusive and interconnected University community that celebrated diversity and addressed the needs of international students.

“We want our students to experience the very best that our region has to offer and the launch of the International Student Ambassador program will be a catalyst to building vital connections and opportunities for these students to succeed in our region,” said Professor Zelinsky.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the launch of the Ambassador Program was an important step in welcoming all international students, emphasising their contributions to creating a vibrant, global community in Newcastle.

“We’re pleased to be partnering with the University of Newcastle to help forge meaningful relationships that will establish a lifelong network of cultural exchange and collaboration,” Cr Nelmes said.

“City of Newcastle’s Economic Development Strategy recognises that international students help to build our global reputation for education and stimulate local business activity, while adding culture and diversity to our city.

“We hope this Ambassador Program will help international students feel more at home and gain a better understanding of all our city has to offer.”

To further support the international student experience, the NSW Government’s Study NSW has also established an international student welcome desk at Newcastle Airport, which Toshi Kawaguchi, Director Study NSW, said would provide a key first point of contact to welcome and prepare students to thrive in Newcastle.

“Newcastle brings together the best parts of NSW’s lifestyle, making it such a popular city for international students to study, work and live. Studying in a foreign city comes with its challenges, which is why Study NSW supports initiatives such as the Ambassador program. It is critical that international students feel welcome and empowered to make the most of their time studying abroad,” said Mr Kawaguchi.

“International students make incredible social and cultural contributions to Newcastle and the broader Australian community. This is one of the ways we’re giving back and providing meaningful opportunities to support their global careers.”

International Student Ambassador, Nataly Soto said she looked forward to amplifying the visibility of international students in the community and helping to build their vital connections for success in Newcastle.

“Having been an international student myself, I understand the difficulties that come with studying overseas and I firmly believe these challenges can be overcome with the right resources. I hope this program will help to create lifelong connections and make Newcastle not only a destination for education, but a true home away from home for these students,” said Nataly.