International students who together performed more than 6,500 hours of volunteer work at local legal and community centres, events and educational institutions were last night honoured for their selfless efforts.
The 30 students from 12 countries are the latest to complete the City of Sydney's award-winning international student leadership ambassador program.
The 18-month program mentors student leaders to become community ambassadors who take part in a wide range of projects, workshops and programs to help strengthen the international student community, build leadership skills and help promote Sydney globally.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City's ambassador program gives international students a voice and enriches community life.
"With more than 35,000 international students calling Sydney home, our city has more international students than any other in Australia," the Lord Mayor said.
"This program is an important part of our commitment to providing a welcoming, positive and nurturing environment for international students studying and living in Sydney.
"These young leaders play an important role in giving a voice to international student communities and establishing strong partnerships with a range of non-profit organisations, student bodies, emergency services and government departments.
"They're helping to shape the policies, services and information which will enhance the education, health and wellbeing of all our international students here in Sydney."
The international student ambassadors helped organise and lead a range of projects over the past 18 months, including:
- Cultural tours for newly-arrived international students
- International student networking events
- Employment and career panels to provide advice and support for international students to find work
- Youth leadership conferences for both local and international student leaders
- A youth music competition and concert to bring together local and visiting young people
For the first time students from Nigeria, Cambodia, USA, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were among the international student ambassadors from 14 education institutions who took part in the 2016-18 ambassador program.
John Simpa Jatto from Nigeria is studying business accounting at Kent Institute Australia. He says his fellow ambassadors have become his second family.
"I always looked forward to our meeting days because my friends and colleagues are very warm and inspiring," Mr Jatto said.
"I've seen novel ideas become phenomenally successful events. By applying the project planning and management skills we've learnt, we created programs like the music infusion project, which I'm really proud of.
"This program has also turned me into a social crusader and I've enjoyed mentoring new students, helping with orientation programs and supporting them academically."
Darrell Lao Bagang from the Philippines recently finished a postgraduate law degree with the University of Technology Sydney.
"It's this vibrant multiculturalism that makes Sydney the great city that it is today and we need to cherish that," Mr Bagang said.
"This program has opened my eyes to the fact even more needs to be done for the international student community which is why I've been volunteering at the Redfern Legal Centre's international students practice."
Anyi Li from China is studying a Bachelor of Commerce in the University of Sydney. She says the decision to study in Australia two years ago has been life changing.
"Being part of the program for the past 18 months has reshaped my way of looking at things," Ms Li said.
"Thanks to the leadership program I've received an internship offer, I've learnt new skills as a volunteer and I can proudly say I've in been part of initiatives to improve the Sydney experience for other international students."
Information on the program is available on the City's website: cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/2016-18-ambassadors
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