Vocational Education and Training 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.

Jerry Photo

Jerry FRANS (Indonesia)

Hillsong College, Norwest

Jerry is a student at Hillsong College in Norwest and has proven himself to be a leader in times of crisis with his unwavering faith and dedication to others a testament to his convictions.

Born on the outskirts of Bandung in West Java in Indonesia, Jerry came to Australia in 2018 to study theology. He had always wanted to study abroad and coming to Australia had been his dream for many years. It was when he stood in front of the Sydney Opera House that he truly felt as though he had achieved that goal.

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Jerry noticed the struggles of those around him, particularly international students for whom the balance of work and study had become overwhelming. Seeing opportunity where others saw challenge, Jerry rallied his peers and led them to Orange as part of his “Cherry Blessings” initiative, connecting struggling students with fruit-picking work in regional Australia.

Over the past 12 months, Jerry formed partnerships with local farmers to organise multiple short-term fruit picking jobs for international students during semester break.

The project was incredibly successful, enabling students to save enough funds to pay for their next semester of tuition and providing the opportunity for them to visit regional NSW. The farmers also benefited from the arrangement as their crops were harvested, despite the shortfall and availability of workers. “Cherry Blessings” will continue to provide ongoing support to regional communities and international students still in the country.

Through his endeavours, Jerry impacted the lives of many people including farmers, international students and the Orange community. Jerry has shown great initiative, generosity and leadership, going beyond himself to help others in a difficult time.

Abish Photo

Abish Burzin PRINTER (India)

Le Cordon Bleu Academy, Sydney

A talented chef and selfless volunteer, Abish has worked hard to not only further his career but also to give back to the community around him during the COVID-19 crisis.

Coming to Australia from India, Abish attended Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney where he has learnt valuable skills from world-class chefs and culinary educators. Abish’s desire to expand his repertoire naturally led him to Australia, a country where the cuisines of many nations come together, created using fresh local produce.

When the coronavirus arrived on Australia’s shores, Abish saw many of his colleagues and peers struggle from the financial impact of COVID-19 restrictions hitting the hospitality sector hard. Abish volunteered at Rosetta Sydney for Rockpool Foundation’s Hope Delivery program delivered by OzHarvest, to produce 2000 meals per day for those affected by COVID-19.

Recipients of the Hope Delivery meal program included Foodbank and Meals on Wheels, organisations to support homeless and underprivileged people in the community who need help and support.

At his recent graduation from Le Cordon Bleu in May, Abish was presented with the Excellence in Industry Award for Certificate III in Commercial Cookery for his eagerness to learn and a positive attitude.

Abish is an excellent student who demonstrates enthusiasm in all attributes of his education, and is described by his teachers as being self-motivated, passionate and a curious individual.

Phaeng Photo

Phaeng XAPHOKHAME (Laos)

TAFE NSW National Environment Centre, Thurgoona

Phaeng is an avid permaculture student at the National Environment Centre at TAFE NSW in Albury. He plans to use his education to improve the lives of thousands in his home country of Laos.

While living in Laos, Phaeng used his expertise in permaculture to help raise subsistence farmers out of poverty by introducing them to modern permaculture techniques. Phaeng would like to contribute to a better future for his home country, and he sees agricultural technologies as the solution to the socioeconomic problems suffered by much of its population. He would like to reduce poverty for his community and he has proven to do so already in NSW.

Phaeng came to Australia in 2020, to learn more about permaculture from the global leaders in the field and to build his network. With a background in Agricultural Extension in his homeland, Phaeng recognised the benefits of international study and the perspectives it would bring.

While studying, Phaeng is working on designing and implementing a permaculture farm for a community of Congolese refugees in Albury. The project aims to help the community achieve food security, and in the long term develop income streams through the sale of local produce.

Through his course, Phaeng completed the design of a permaculture education farm he hopes to build in Luang Prabang Province in Laos. Farms in this area are small-scale, often managed by subsistence farmers dealing with poverty, land degradation and climate change.

Phaeng’s aim for the permaculture education farm is to demonstrate, teach and support small-scale farmers to develop resilient food production systems. The project will also teach permaculture in local schools to engage local children and help address malnutrition issues in the area.

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