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News and Views of the
Filipino Community Worldwide
In Sydney, international students learn, enjoy, grow

By Evelyn A Opilas
April 3, 2018


“Come, join, and connect”, coaxed Filipino international student Darrell Lao Bagang in an invitation online.

Urged further with “tell your friends about this big event”, my colleague Mely Estanislao booked for two, and that is how I found myself 24 March at “Connect: A Networking Event for International Students 2018”, one of the many activities of the City of Sydney International Student Leaders and Ambassadors Program to enable learning, enjoyment, growth.

Familiar faces, new faces, total strangers – did it matter?

The number of Filipino international students mingling with international students from other countries such as China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Vietnam on the day shows how Sydney has become an education hub in the Asia Pacific region, and how Pinoys seemed to have embraced this with gusto.

“Connect” aimed to be an interactive event that would provide participants with the information and skills they need to network during their stay in Sydney, and to interact with professionals from different sectors.

It also linked participants to ISLA’s social media presence as they uploaded selfies on Instagram and facebook.

“About 35,000 international students are currently enrolled in Sydney,” said ISLA program coordinator Susana Ng, pointing out the scale of the program, as she and other resource persons table-hopped providing attendees with information about their respective services.

Macquarie University Master in Information Technology student Yvonne Bachiller from the Philippines explained the benefits derived from ISLA’s 18-month intensive training in leadership, cultural intelligence and events management which they apply to organise and facilitate projects such as “Connect”.

Nuala Myatt-Bocarro, who previously taught English at an international school in Japan, gave an overview of StudyNSW and its partner projects, including the International Student Award.

Senior policy officer Veronica Millar described how NSW Police can assist international students during their stay in Sydney, indicating that the service has an international student page on facebook.

Priyadi Prishaswan of Play Safe provided information about sexual health and the safety measures one could take in this area.

Nikhil Patel showed how “The Welcome Dinner Project” connects newly-arrived people with established Australians through welcome dinners held in local homes with everyone bringing a plate to share and having fun. Participants may register at www.joiningthedots.org for the free events, with transport assistance available.

Senior community engagement officer Wael Sabri of the NSW Department of Health Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service dealt with the needs of persons with AIDs and said a free HIV test is available at Sydney Hospital, with privacy assured.

Shobhna Pandaram of the NSW Office of Fair Trading outlined international students’ right to be protected from unfair business practices, including shopping, refunds, renting, cars, product safety, and scams.

Faisal Barnawi, who identified himself as “Nigerian though born in Saudi Arabia,” and Victoria Xu from China emceed the event.

Aside from Darrell and Yvonne, the other Filipino international students at “Connect” were Hannah Conejos, Gian Gonzales, Aliuddin Haron, Alinia Mabatid, Dyan Suaco, and Camille.

Meanwhile, the City of Sydney’s draft international education plan, which includes programs and funding to welcome students to Sydney, promote health and well-being services, and increase employability, is currently on public exhibition.

Aiming to further strengthen global connections and help maintain Sydney’s status as Australia’s leading education destination, feedback on the plan may be posted at https://www.sydneyyoursay.com.au/international-education-action-plan until 5pm Friday, 20 April 2018.

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