Filter articles by:
Date published
Article keywords
Article type

Australia Awards shape communities and families

Andy Visser

14 June 2019. Travelling to a foreign country to pursue one’s studies as a Higher Degree by Research student is very often not an isolated or singular opportunity. The recent cohort of Australian Awards students epitomise this as they celebrated the completion of their studies at the University of Canberra surrounded by family and friends.

Seven Australia Awards students from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea celebrated the completion of their respective post graduate studies at a graduation ceremony held at the University of Canberra’s Bruce campus.

“The Australian Government celebrates and congratulates these Australia Awards scholars,” said Ms Lyn Henderson, Assistant Director, Alumni, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. “Their successes will inspire others to do the same. As they head back to their home countries, they will share their knowledge and experiences with colleagues, family and friends, making their respective world’s richer because of the time spent at the University of Canberra.”

Celebrating the completion of their studies was summed up in a few words by PhD in Accounting graduate Mr Naf’an Widiarso Rafid, “I am sure I will be even more clever if I were to apply for another degree.”

When Mr Widiarso Rafid and his family arrived in Australia from Indonesia they were immediately confronted by the Canberra winter.

“It was freezing but I really did enjoy the cooler weather as we settled into Canberra and made it our home,” he said.

As a strong believer in the power of education, Mr Widiarso Rafid has always dreamt of obtaining his PhD. The Australia Awards scholarship made that dream a reality.

“I am fortunate that I received a scholarship and that my family was given the opportunity to experience a different lifestyle and culture as I pursued my dream,” he said.

The memories made from spending time on campus, living in Canberra and travelling around Australia made for a comprehensive learning experience.

“My youngest son has grown up in Canberra and my eldest daughter could not speak a word of English when we arrived. Today, she writes my speeches and has become quite an English expert,” said Mr Widiarso Rafid.

From enjoying the cooler Canberra weather to being able to travel around the city with very little traffic and noise, to enjoying the myriad of cultural offerings in the Australian Bush Capital, these Australia Awards scholars have embraced the opportunity to live, learn and experience University life and the city it calls home.

Mr Charles Seran enrolled in a Master of Communication in Marketing and is looking forward to returning to Bali to apply his knowledge as he aspires to take up employment in the Indonesian Island’s tourism sector.

“I was looking for a way to apply what I had already learned through my undergraduate PR degree and was keen to pursue my Masters studies from a practical perspective, and UC was the perfect institution for me to achieve this goal,” Mr Seran said.

As part of his Masters by Research studies, Mr Seran took up an internship at UC College which inspired his thesis on ‘The benefits of marketing to higher education institutions’.

Mr Taufik Damhuri studied towards his PhD in Public Administration through the University’s Faculty of Business Government and Law and the Institute of Governance and Public Administration.

Mr Damhuri has spent the past four years in Canberra with his wife and two daughters while completing his Doctorate.

“Living off campus with my family has meant that we have been immersed in the multicultural atmosphere of Canberra and we will take many wonderful memories back to Indonesia with us,” said Mr Damhuri.

“My daughters have benefitted from a good education while I have completed my studies and they will share many stories and experiences with their friends back home.”

Building community and staying connected is vitally important for international students. Mr Rohmat Rohmat who has been in Canberra for the past four and a half years with his wife and three sons while studying towards his PhD in Public Policy felt his sense of belonging was housed in the connections that he made.

“My family and I have built a cohort of friends, while I have established an academic network,” said Mr Rohmat.

“While enjoying the wonderful facilities and resources available to us here at the University, my family and I have been able to travel around Australia making wonderful memories and new friends wherever our travels took us.”

Mr Rohmat will be heading back to Indonesia to resume his work in the Indonesian Ministry of Finance where he plans to put his research into practice.

The experience of spending time in a foreign country will remain etched in these families for generations. As each student was able to turn paragraphs into pages, pages into chapters and chapters into a thesis, so their families have experienced life with a difference, built friendships and learnt a new language. Lives will be forever changed.

The University of Canberra currently has 37 scholars from 17 countries depicting the diversity of the University’s international student cohort.