What happened at the CISA National Conference?

The Council of International Students Australia (CISA) National Conference is an annual event for government bodies, stakeholders and students to gather together, listen to each other and share inspirational and interesting opinions and goals for international education. This year’s conference was held in Darwin and Study Melbourne caught up with Victorian international students Quyen, Mercy and Teresita, who attended the conference thanks to the Victorian Government’s International Student Welfare Grants.

Trinh Van Quyen

Trinh Van Quyen, Box Hill Institute

Quyen sees education as an investment, marking Melbourne as his first choice for academic achievement. He received a scholarship from KOTO and Box Hill Institute to study in Victoria, and travelled to Melbourne to complete a Diploma for Hospitality Management, specialising in commercial cookery. His passion for helping other international students feel welcome and comfortable was the primary driver to attend the CISA National Conference. 

My trip to Darwin was absolutely memorable and extremely helpful in many ways. It was my first conference, and I enjoyed every single day. I was so surprised to feel the energetic atmosphere in the conference room from Charles Darwin University to Darwin Convention Centre, with everyone eager to say so much and offer a lot to help as well.

The 2016 CISA Conference had a great effect on my learning. It added extra great knowledge to my experience as an overseas student. We met so many international students hungry to discuss and learn from others and enthusiastic to be part of such a great event. We were all from different schools, universities, states, nations, cultures, religions and backgrounds, but we discussed issues and solutions together as one.

CISA was a beautiful bridge to connect us together. From the bottom of my heart, I would say thanks a thousand times to my golden sponsor and Study Melbourne for such great unconditional love and for giving me this beautiful chance to travel and get involved, explore, meet and enrich my knowledge.

Mercy Carolina Blanco Gutierrez

Mercy Carolina Blanco Gutierrez, Royal Gurkhas Institute of Technology

Mercy chose to study in Victoria because of its reputation as a welcoming, multicultural state. With her sisters living here already, Mercy began an English Language course at Deakin University and then extended her studies to complete an Advanced Diploma of Hospitality with Royal Gurkhas Institute of Technology. When she graduates, Mercy hopes to apply for a job as a qualified chef in Melbourne.

At the beginning, I didn’t know what to expect from the CISA National Conference because it was the first time I had heard about it.

Now, I think it has been a great opportunity for me to learn about the international student community and network with hundreds of students from different parts of the world.

Teresita Tabornal Laborte

Teresita Tabornal Laborte, Royal Gurkhas Institute of Technology

For Teresita, Victoria was well-known for its prestige, safety and sizeable community of international students from all over the world. She came to Melbourne to pursue her dream of becoming a professional chef, gain experience in an internationally-acclaimed hotel and one day establish her own café back home in the Philippines. Teresita applied to attend the CISA National Conference to meet and learn from other international students.

It was a great pleasure to be part of the CISA National Conference. We had the opportunity to learn lots of things that were of great worth. Not just that, we were also given a chance to explore Darwin. I want to give special thanks to Study Melbourne who sponsored me to be part of the conference.

The conference was held in Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia. It was a four-day conference with the theme, “Breaking down barriers, facing the future together as one”. The first two days was the ‘pre-conference’ in which students were given the chance to raise their issues and concerns with regards to their studies. I am glad that there is this big organisation that is willing to listen the voices of students and help them.

During the conference, we talked about a lot of things such as the power of collaboration; international and transnational education; and about social innovation, where we share and discuss ideas with other students. We were taught how to generate and evaluate ideas and how to come up with great ideas through collaboration. In this task, I learnt how to allow people to speak and listen to them when they’re speaking. It is one way of showing respect to those who are talking. Thanks to all of the speakers who gave us lots of valuable information that will help us grow as individuals.

The conference was really an eye-opener for us, not just as international students. Breaking down barriers is easy to say but it’s not that easy to do. For me, breaking barriers must start with ourselves first, as individuals.  If we want to make a DIFFERENCE or if we want CHANGE, then let’s create a better “You and Me”.

The conference didn’t only have us sit and listen to every speaker. The most essential thing was that I was able to make and meet new friends, learn different cultures and stay in touch with them.

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