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Behind closed doors

Aun Ngo

Fri Apr 24 2009

Glorie Low

SOME 40 international students crammed into the tiny hallway of a student accommodation on Swanston St last Thursday.

It was Talent Night, and time for the teens and twenty-somethings to let their hair down after weeks of cramming for the final exams.

The event at Arrow on Swanston has become an annual showcase of the dwelling’s hidden gems. It bears testament to the students’ desire to grow in ways other than the prescribed school curriculum.

There were nine acts in all – made up of aspiring musicians, singers and songwriters, and quite unexpectedly, a magician too.

The night exceeded the expectations of Tim Wong, Talent Night judge and co-founder of Tiger Music , a development company for local artists.

“I’d like to see more nights like this, to give people a chance,” he said.

“Students have all this untapped potential, and nights like this give them an outlet to showcase their hidden talent.”

It is also times like this that help students grow into their own, he said.

Arrow on Swanston’s student mentor Xinyan Wee was also on the night’s panel of judges.

“They were really brave and sporting to have performed in front of a crowd,” she said.

From left, Shafiq Ajmal and Kristen Guilford charmed the audience with an original song. Photo: Aun Ngp

From left, Shafiq Ajmal and Kristen Guilford charmed the audience with an original song. Photo: Aun Ngp

But it was also an important social event for international students to widen their friendship circles and build a community in a foreign country, she said.

Melbourne University students from Indonesia, siblings Ruby and Felix Lawi said Talent Night was a great event, especially for Asian students.

“Because they’re so shy,” Ruby said.

Felix said nights like this help draw them out of their shells.

“In Asia, students don’t want to stand out or be noticed. To be set apart from the crowd means that teachers pick on you more often in class.”

It’s a different culture that calls for a different way of thinking and doing things, he said.