2017 International Student Award Finalists

7 September 2017


Date: 07 September 2017

English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS)

Chie Omiya

Country: Japan

Educational Institution: TAFE NSW English Language Centre, Meadowbank Campus

Chie has only been in Australia for a short time and has already proven to have quite an impact on the community. Chie has great empathy for her peers, most of whom are studying overseas in a second language and without a support network. Chie encourages other students and volunteers to help with after-class activities. Her teachers appreciate how she motivates the less confident students and comment on her willingness to help others. Chie also loves working with children and is a volunteer teacher at a Japanese language school where she supports teachers by helping out with young learners.

Jingya Kymia Wang

Country: China

Educational Institution:  The University of Sydney Centre for English Teaching (CET)

Kymia Wang is a student extraordinaire and inspirational role model when it comes to her commitment to enhance and develop international students’ experiences in Sydney. Her main focus is to help Chinese students settle in Sydney by easing the transition to a new country as well as reducing students’ acculturative stress. Kymia has created and implemented an English tutorial program called “English Corner” which aims to facilitate the relationships and connections between Chinese students and local or other international students. This creates a safe environment for them to develop an understanding of Australian culture and practice English. Kymia is also part of the CET Leaders Network – a group of highly engaged CET students who organise activities and events to connect CET students to the wider community. She is also very active on the Volunteer Team at the University of Sydney, volunteering at events that provide students with the opportunity to get involved with the broader community.

Yuki Uemura

Country: Japan

Educational Institution: TAFE NSW English Language Centre, Ultimo

Yuki is an outstanding role model for international students. She contributes not only to the community of international students, but also shares her sporting and cultural expertise. She is contributing to the lives of others by sharing her culture and knowledge of judo with young Australians. Yuki has given much time and effort, particularly to those young players new to judo. Yuki also contributes to the broader NSW community by assisting at Doyle’s Physiotherapy where she has built great connections with staff and clients. In class Yuki always works across cultural groups in class, making sure not to remain within one language group. Yuki engages actively at lunch breaks and in extracurricular activities with students of all nationalities and has established friendships across cultures.

Vocational Education and Training

Elizabeth Nurieta

Country: Indonesia

Educational Institution: TAFE NSW Northern Beaches Campus

Elizabeth (Liz) is actively engaged in the student and local community. As the only student from Indonesia in the Diploma course, Elizabeth shares her insights into Indonesian society with fellow students, which contributes greatly to intercultural exchange and understanding. Liz completed her vocational experience placement and continues to be engaged at a residential aged care facility. She was able to build strong relationships with the residents through her enthusiasm and commitment. Liz has a real desire to improve the residents’ quality of life and to have a direct positive impact on people’s lives. Liz has also been actively engaged in her church community, including being a part of a team running a Preschool programme for the church’s Day Camp.

Sister Anna Thi Bach Cuc Nguyen

Country: Vietnam

Educational InstitutionTAFE NSW South Western Sydney RTO

Sr Anna studies at TAFE NSW’s Granville College and resides at St Paul’s International College (SPIC) where she is instrumental in building and nurturing the community of international students. Friend, mother, mentor, confidant, mediator and role model are some of the titles used by other students to describe the valuable role Sr Anna voluntarily undertakes. Sr Anna understands the challenges of young international students and she is a familiar face, caring ear and shoulder of support for them. Sr Anna has been able to break down divides in the student community and build a more harmonious and supportive community through activities and conversations.

Yam Prasad Dhital

Country: Nepal

Educational Institution: Strathfield College Australia

Yam Prasad Dhital is compassionate, always helpful and humble. He is engaged in a wide range of activities that are beneficial to the community. He organises and participates in events that involve the local Nepalese community in NSW and is an active member of multicultural groups that provide a vital link between Nepalese and Australians in his local community. In December 2016 Yam was thrown in the spotlight through his courageous act of saving a life. He risked everything to ensure the safety of a child that was trapped in a fire. After this Yam became even more involved in the wider community, advocating for multiculturalism and inclusiveness. He was awarded the community service award from Strathfield College in 2017. Yam truly is a role model for all international students.

Higher Education

Henness Wong

Country: China, Hong Kong SAR

Educational Institution: University of Wollongong (UOW)         

Henness is passionate about social justice and committed to making a difference in the community at a local and international level. He has truly thrown himself into life in Australia and in the Wollongong/Illawarra community. Henness is committed to supporting and making positive contributions to the mental and physical wellbeing of his peers, community and the environment.  Henness volunteered with Headspace Wollongong through ‘A Sound Life’ to run free yoga classes for young people experiencing mental health issues. Henness has a particular interest in LGBTI and refugee communities, and has volunteered as a medical volunteer for Sydney Mardi Gras. As an active “Champion of Welcome” volunteer fundraiser for the Strategic Community Assistance for Refugee Families (SCARF) in the Illawarra, he supports social integration and settlement. Henness is also an active contributor to UOW Student Health Alliance for Rural Populations (UOW SHARP). In his role as the Senior Representative for Australian Medical Students' Association (AMSA), Henness coordinated the Australian Red Cross Blood Service “Vampire Cup” blood donation drive for UOW, where he achieved a 350% increase in donations by implementing a highly effective social media campaign.

Linus Faustin

Country: Tanzania

Educational Institution: University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

Linus is an inspirational, committed and well-connected, yet very humble, international student at UTS. He is passionate about social justice, inclusion and diversity. Linus is a role model and friend to numerous UTS students – both Australian and international – and is influential in the wider community. Linus has been nominated for high-profile humanitarian contributions in Australia and overseas and is passionately involved in clubs and societies at UTS. Linus was a key player and facilitator of the ‘Racism. It Stops With me’ campaign at UTS. He volunteers through UTS’s Peer Network and Community Connections Programs, and with Batyr at UTS, a program that encourages students to seek help when suffering from mental health issues. He co-founded and now produces the international student channel on Vertigo TV. Beyond UTS, Linus was selected as a NSW Multicultural Youth Ambassador (MYA) in 2016. He continues to work hard to promote awareness of issues facing young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds in Australia and is a powerful voice for young people from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Ashraf Abdelbaky

Country: Egypt

Educational Institution: The University of Newcastle

Ashraf has worked tirelessly in the local community, sharing lessons about life in Australia to newly arrived migrants. These have included providing classes in both Arabic and the English language to migrants and the broader community; and teaching about scriptures in the mosque, local schools and a local church. Ashraf participated in the culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Community Engagement Project with Ability Links NSW Hunter/Central Coast St Vincent de Paul Society during 2016 and 2017, supporting CALD -communities to identify and access suitable support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Ashraf’s participation was vital in highlighting these services to the Arabic speaking community. For this work as an Arabic Community Advisor, he received a certificate of congratulations from the NSW Minister of Multiculturalism and Disability Services. Within the University community, Ashraf recently hosted two panels on campus highlighting stories of some of the Syrian refugees who study at TAFE NSW Hunter campus, and he continues to work closely with this group to assist with their transition into life in Australia. Ashraf is also the founder and President of the Newcastle Arab Students Society (NASS), and President of the University of Newcastle Islamic Society (UNIS). In these roles, Ashraf has coordinated the delivery of a broad range of activities including workshops on Arab culture, history and language, weekly inclusive soccer games, community-based Eid Picnic events, and the highly successful 2016 and 2017 UON Multicultural Ramadan Iftars. Ashraf inspires a greater inclusiveness amongst the university and Newcastle community by acting as a leader and advocate for all international students.


Katherine Pei Kun Qi

Country: China

Educational Institution: Beverly Hills Girls High School

Katherine Pei Kun is an inspirational student who has committed to building her leadership skills in her quest to make a difference to those around her. She consciously seeks opportunities to help others. Katherine successfully pursued a position within the Student Representative Council. In this position Katherine is able to touch the lives of her peers through mentoring, tutoring, fundraising and leading. Katherine provides invaluable guidance and support to newly enrolled international students mentoring and guiding them so as to facilitate their successful transition into high school. During lunch time Katherine can be found tutoring her peers in Mathematics and Science voluntarily with warmth, patience and support. She also supports a range of important school and community initiatives through her participation in volunteering programs. These include the school’s weekly Coffee Club, catering at school Performance Evenings and Open Days, and, more widely, providing administrative support to Hurstville Library. Katherine has a passion for food and nutrition and is maintaining her involvement in a community nutrition program for school students in Fujian province (China) while studying in Australia.

Mizuki Shimosaka

Country: Japan

Educational Institution: Cobar High School

Mizuki is an exchange student from Japan, calling Cobar in outback NSW home until December 2017. Through AFS Intercultural Programs Australia, Mizuki applied to study in Australia to learn more about her host culture of Australia and home culture of Japan. Mizuki has become an invaluable member of her host family and local community. She volunteers with Cobar Girl Guides. When Cobar Girl Guides held a Japanese Day, Mizuki jumped at the chance to teach origami and other Japanese customs. At the Cobar Markets, Mizuki and her host sister performed together. She is actively promoting Japanese culture in her new community, enabling greater two-way cultural understanding and building bridges across countries. A referee states, ‘Mizuki came to our remote community in February. She quickly made her way into everyone’s hearts with her friendly smile and interest in our community. She took to the red dust, cat-heads and lack of shops and has become part of our lives. Cobar has been very lucky to host Mizuki; she will be remembered long after she goes home’.

Tanya Da Costa

Country: Timor Leste

Educational Institution: The Pittwater House School

Tanya is an outstanding student who is touching the lives of many of her peers and people in the community. She continues to have close contacts with her hometown of Soibada in Timor Leste, through her involvement in the Youth for Soibada project. This project fundraises for a senior high school as well as a teacher training centre and guesthouse. Tanya is also involved with the Pittwater Friends of Soibada organisation. This work helps her hometown and Timor Leste as well as helping develop links with local Australian communities. Tanya has also been involved with an anti-bullying and suicide prevention event; she is active with the Rotary club; she joined the Youth Group at her local church and is a member of the choir; and participates in a local craft group. She also volunteers with ‘Days for Girls’ and sews hygiene kits for girls in Timor Leste. Tanya was active in a local council workshop - Young Minds, Big Ideas, where her team was the winning team coming up with a community minded idea assisting students participating in the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme.

NSW International Student Community Engagement Award Finalists: Education Provider

The University of Sydney Centre for English Teaching (CET)

Program: CET Engagement Program

The CET Engagement Program is an initiative from the Centre for English Teaching, aiming to improve the student experience and wellbeing of international students by developing social interactions between international students, domestic students and the wider community. The program offers a range of over 100 free activities, categorised by learning and social benefits and mapped to the CET student lifecycle. The program is built to address international students’ lack of engagement and participation in activities outside of the classroom. It is also designed to accelerate their immersion and understanding of Australian and university culture. The CET Student Engagement Program has eased students’ transition to a new country, helped them connect and interact with students from different nationalities and provided extended English language practice. Students say that ‘the program is helpful to improve…English and learn about local culture’ and that ‘the program builds the connection between new students and the college so that (they) can truly get involved in the college community’.

University of Wollongong (UOW) & Bomaderry High School

Program: Asia Immersion Program

The University of Wollongong (UOW) and Bomaderry High School deliver the ‘Asia Immersion Program’ across six schools in the Shoalhaven area with the aim of fostering intercultural respect, understanding and communication between regional young Australian and international students from Asia. Each year groups of international students from Asia travel to the Shoalhaven and spend three days with staff and students at Bomaderry High and Public School, Kangaroo Valley Public School, Cambewarra Public School, Berry Public School and Shoalhaven Heads Public School. At each school UOW international students provide school students and teaching staff with insights into their language and culture, and historical and political background of their country. They also share cultural experiences such as food tastings, painting, dance and language. In return the UOW international students gain an insight into the Australian education system and Australian society. The engagement between international students and local schools has resulted in significant changes in attitude and perspective. Students in all partner schools now study an Asian culture each year. Post-program surveys indicate an increased understanding of Asia and desire to travel and work in Asia. A sister school program between Bomaderry High School and Yangpyeong High School in South Korea has been established. The Asia Immersion Program is a successful mutually beneficial partnership which has broken down barriers and nurtured new relationships and positive attitudes between international students, the local community and our Asian neighbours.

The University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Program: UNSW Hero Program

This unique program allows international students to develop their personal skills and graduate attributes, and allows them to have a direct role in improving the University through working on real projects that are implemented across the institution. International students join local students in projects that utilise their individual skills developed in different contexts. This aspect of the program has enhanced the interaction between domestic and international students. Allowing students to think about solving real university process improvements in an innovative way is an outstanding example of Students as Partners – students assisting the University to grow and develop as a learning organisation. The program combines the best aspects of work integrated learning, industry mentorship, belonging to a community and personal goal setting. The program develops students’ confidence and communication skills as well as their networking opportunities. Students participating in the program say that it ‘played an instrumental part in (their) development and success as an international student, teaching (them) to always take initiative and to never back down from a challenge’. Another student states that ‘the UNSW Hero Program allowed (her) to gain communication and problem-solving skills. It gave (her) more confidence and encouraged (students) to experiment and to be more entrepreneurial and confident’.

NSW International Student Community Engagement Award Finalists: Business/Community Group

AFS Intercultural Programs Australia

Program: AFS Support Volunteers, Monthly Contact and Learning Reflections

AFS Intercultural Programs Australia (AFS Australia) is the Australian partner of an international, volunteer-driven, non-profit organisation that provides intercultural learning opportunities and develops active global citizens. AFS’ international standards require that each hosted exchange student be formally contacted by an AFS volunteer or staff member on at least a monthly basis. In 2016, AFS Australia introduced a new approach to complement existing Monthly Contacts with Learning Reflections. Learning Reflections are structured monthly conversations in which AFS Support Volunteers lead their student through a series of intercultural learning activities. Learning Reflections facilitated monthly by trained AFS Support Volunteers enhance the relationships that exchange students have with their host families, teachers, school friends and other community members. Students develop intercultural competencies which assist to break down cultural barriers and to connect with broader networks within their host communities. AFS exchange students say that Learning Reflections have ‘definitely helped (them) to settle in at school and also with (their) Australian host family’ whilst AFS Support Volunteers develop new skills and foster collaborative problem solving.

Cricket NSW

Program: Mosaic Cricket

Mosaic Cricket is a Cricket NSW program which seeks to recognise and create an inclusive environment for the various multicultural groups that play cricket in NSW. The Mosaic Cricket Association, managed by Cricket NSW, not only creates a pathway for players but is also a force for positive social change in the community. The 2016/17 season had 350 teams and over 3,500 people playing cricket across the various Mosaic competitions throughout NSW. Over 50% of the players that take part in the various Mosaic competitions are international students. Mosaic cricket competitions provide an important avenue through which international students can find social connection, gain confidence and a sense of belonging whilst pursuing their educational aspirations in a foreign country. Participation in cricket also reduces social isolation and encourages social integration into the broader Australian community. International students participating in the program say that ‘playing cricket has helped (them) to stay away from the stress of studies for at least a short period of time, and helps to improve…mental strength’. Another student says that through the Mosaic Cricket program he ‘got to be part of a wider community while being away from family’, and ‘got the chance to make new friends, and create links and networks with successful individuals from different walks of life’.

University of New England (UNE) & BUPA

Program: The International Hub

Being a regional and rural city, Armidale does not have the infrastructure associated with integrated social welfare and services available in large urban centres. The objectives of establishing The International Hub is to involve international students, their families and new arrivals into the local community through a strong focus on health and wellbeing. The Hub officially opened in October 2016 and immediately reached out to the community to offer activities that foster relationships and networks. Maintaining an emphasis on health and wellbeing, the first services offered included an International Women’s support group, free driving lessons, and national day events. As the project grew other activities were offered including swimming classes for women and children, weekly English language lessons for student families, a Positive Parenting program; multicultural day activities and fitness and tennis classes. The Hub also facilitates UNE students to speak and share their culture and customs with regional primary schools. The Hub is unique in that it offers services for the international community by focusing on student families and all new arrivals to the New England area. The Hub continues to grow, integrate, and support the needs of newly arrived students and their families into the welcoming and engaged Armidale community. Participants of the Hub’s programs have said “…the Hub helps in normalising differences and brings together people. This creates support networks that in the end benefit the whole community” and “…the Hub fosters integration in Armidale, both for international students and those making the transition to life in Australia”.