Schools Finalists

2021 NSW International Student of the Year Award

The winners of the 2021 NSW International Student Awards were announced at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks, Sydney on Friday 12 November.

Qiufei Frank Lai Photo

Qiufei (Frank) LAI (China)

Epping Boys High School, Epping

As a student of Epping Boys High School since 2018, Frank has applied himself to consistently achieve high academic results while also involving himself in student leadership and artistic pursuits.

Hailing from Shanghai in China, Frank came to Australia with a dream to experience an education system that celebrated the individual and nurtured his artistic talents. At Epping Boys High School, he founded the school’s first Artist Club, a group of visual art students dedicated to improving and honing their craft while each bringing their unique experiences to the canvas.

Frank first demonstrated his interest in leading and supporting others in his role as a student mentor while in Year 10 and Year 11. He went on to join the Year 12 prefect body and has acted as a mature advocate for international students amongst the wider school community, promoting cross-cultural awareness and understanding.

He also played a key role in coordinating charity fundraisers such as Movember and World’s Greatest Shave at his school, demonstrating a commitment to both his academic efforts and community service.

A natural leader, Frank is reliable and an outstanding public speaker. In 2021, he launched an inter-school Year 12 international student gathering for Sydney’s northern districts. This event was held at Epping Boys High School in August.

Frank was recently entered into the school honour book, which is the highest accolade at Epping Boys High School. Since arriving in Australia, Frank has adapted to the educational environment and applies himself with diligence to be of benefit to staff, students and the wider school community.

Rui Wang Photo

Rui WANG (China)

St Augustine's College, Brookvale

A selfless volunteer and dedicated student at St Augustine’s College in Brookvale, Rui brings his unique perspective to challenges faced by the less fortunate while never losing sight of his own scholarly endeavours.

Leaving his hometown of Nanchang, China in 2018, Rui swiftly adapted to the Australian education system, flourishing in his new environment.

During his time at St Augustine’s College, Rui has demonstrated a sophisticated and industrious work ethic, as well as being caring and considerate of others. When the pandemic hit Australia in 2020, many international students felt anxious and overwhelmed. As International Student Prefect, Rui went out of his way to support his fellow international students, by organising social activities to create a family-like environment and connect as a community.

Rui also organised a Christmas trip for the international student cohort, allowing many to experience this holiday for the first time. Gifts and meals were arranged, and Rui took it upon himself to make sure the international students felt included during the holiday season.

Recognising international students are particularly vulnerable due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rui helped to build an Offshore Program to provide academic and social support for international students unable to return to Australia due to border closures. The program has helped support more than 50 offshore international students for over a year.

Prior to COVID-19, Rui organised an international trip for several Australians students, heading to the impoverished Guizhou Province in southern China, where they volunteered their time to benefit local communities. While on the ground, the group taught English at a local school, helped farmers plant and harvest vegetable crops, and assisted in the construction of a community study hall for students from disadvantaged families.

Rui hopes to continue his studies in Australia, using those skills and connections to build bridges between cultures and nations.

500x500 2021 ISA Yimei School

Yimei ZHAO (China)

Mosman High School, Mosman

Yimei is an outstanding school leader and dedicated member of the international student community at Mosman High School. Yimei has gone above and beyond to initiate changes related to the environment, gender equality, and mental health.

Yimei is originally from China’s north-eastern Shandong region and has taken the academic rigour she learned in her homeland and applied it to her studies in NSW, excelling in both music and mathematics. It is her balance of scholarly pursuits and social conscience that sets her apart from many of her peers.

Serving as school Vice-Captain, Yimei has used her passion for environmental activism to effect real change in her local community. She chairs the Mosman High School Environment Committee and attends the Mosman Municipal Council meetings to support environmental initiatives including mulching and planting a local garden space. A strong leader of people, Yimei leads by example: showing others how to have an impact. She collaborated with local schools for beach clean-ups, and organised multiple fundraisers for ‘Sydney Wildlife’ and ‘Clean-Up Australia Day’. Recently, she brought about a school policy change to recycle single-use coffee cups, showcasing her ability to be a strong advocate on issues that affect the broader community.

Yimei has worked tirelessly to support those who often go unheard, coordinating bake sales to raise funds for marginalised LGBTI+ communities and ensuring that her fellow international students’ concerns are heard.

Intelligent, perceptive and with a thoughtful approach to her peers, Yimei provides caring support for international students who are living away from home. As part of this endeavour, she has set up buddy programs, organised morning teas and launched user-friendly school websites so that no student feels isolated, especially during the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yimei also joined forces with Zali Steggall’s Youth Ambassador Team, to design a mental-health awareness app, catered specifically for young adults.

Her skill as a talented musician has seen Yimei participate in many school concerts and accompany music students for their final exams. She has a distinguished academic record and is highly regarded by her teachers and peers.

Yimei has dedicated herself to serve the community, while never compromising on her schoolwork.

Meet our 2021 finalists




Higher Education

Business Community

Education Provider