“In seeking truth you have to have both sides of a story.”
There has been a lot of negative press surrounding international students in recent years, but many of the stories found in mainstream media have failed to present the full picture.
There is more to international students beyond enrolment figures and statistics, stories of students as victims of discrimination or violent attacks, or reports of students using loopholes in Australia’s migration laws to gain permanent residency.
Hosted by the Australian Federation for International Students, in partnership with international student online publication Meld Magazine, Two Sides of a Story aims to document the challenges and hardships international students have faced, as well as showcase their remarkable achievements.
The project is also proudly supported by the City of Melbourne, the Council of International Students Australia, Make Up Academy, Predepong Chitchumnong Photography and Kurioz.
Jump to gallery here.
From Guangzhou China, Sandy graduated from a Master of Arts Management at RMIT, and is now pursuing an Advanced Diploma of Management. She may come across as a young and subdued international student, but she is also an experienced dancer, choreographer and business woman. She has performed in 10 countries, taken part in the Melbourne Fringe Festival, organised events such as the Guangzhou Fashion Week and has been involved with the Australia Chinese Dancers Association since 2010. She is passionate about facilitating culture and arts exchange for young artists in Australia and China – and dreams of setting up a Culture & Arts Centre in Melbourne, providing Australian-Chinese arts training at all levels of dance and other types of art like painting, singing, piano and guzheng.
Yuriko is a Bachelor of Arts student with a keen interest in international studies. As a student activities organiser at RMIT English Worldwide, Yuriko spends a lot of time helping to orient newly arrived international students to Melbourne. Of Japanese and Mexican descent, she is well acquainted with both languages and cultures. She grew up in Mexico, but attended a Japanese school until Junior High. She founded the RMIT Japan Club, dislikes natto and sushi, and insists tequila should be sipped, the Mexican way.
Sravan Kumar Theerthala
From Hydrabad, Sravan was left fighting for his life after being stabbed with a screwdriver at a Melbourne party in 2009. When news broke that the parents of the Indian international student were too poor to visit their critically injured son, the State Government as well as many members of the public stepped in to help, offering money, transport and hospitality. Moved by the outpouring of generosity, Sravan is now passionate about promoting international education, and strengthening ties between India and Australia.
Raised in Vietnam, Catherine moved to Melbourne in 2008. After high school, Catherine was surprised to discover many international students at university were isolated and found it difficult to engage their Aussie peers. Wanting to improve the experience of international students in Melbourne, she joined the Australian Federation of International Students, and now gives regular talks to students at TAFE during orientation.
A Master of Marketing student from Kazahkstan, Valentine is strong on leadership development. He was part of EDGE, the City of Melbourne’s international student leadership program held earlier this year, and is currently involved with AIESEC, the world’s largest youth-run organisation, so as to be part of a global learning environment. Valentine says people usually find him conservative and rational, but there’s also a fun side to this travel buff who speaks Russian, Kazakh and Ukrainian. He enjoys travelling, music and especially sport. In fact,Valentine was the captain of a semi-professional soccer team called “Locomotive-Astana” in Kazakhstan for three years.
From Malaysia, Raymond is a natural creative with a hand in many pots – from DIY projects, graphic and interior design, to music and performing arts. He is part of a not-for-profit dance collective PoiseE’n that seeks to empower international students through the performing arts. He is outgoing and loves company, but also regularly takes time out to be alone, to think and to introspect.
From Vietnam, studying a Bachelor of Information Systems at La Trobe University, Kimberly is resistant to being stereotyped. It explains her love for cosplay – a type of performance art in which participants don costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea. For Kimberly, the greatest adventure in life is the exploration of the many sides of oneself.
A Bachelor of Entrepreneurship student at RMIT University, Vincent is also a photographer and cinematographer. From Indonesia, he understands the challenges international students face when it comes to interacting with others from different cultures, but has made a conscious effort to engage the wider Australian community, both personally and through multimedia.
From Malaysia, Sumisha says Australians are sometimes surprised to discover she can speak English fluently. Recently graduated with a Master of Communication in Journalism, Sumisha works at the ABC’s Asia Pacific radio service, and serves as news editor at Meld Magazine. She is passionate about getting stories that normally wouldn’t be heard out there, and believes the media has power to do good, to shatter stereotypes and be a voice for the under-represented.