Friday, May 30, 2014

The Semester is Coming to a Close

So probably like the rest of you, the end my semester abroad here in Australia is coming to an end. Today was officially the last day of school before final exams which are in a few weeks. To much our surprise though (JCU exchange students), we were all invited to an Exchange Student Commencement Ceremony! It was pretty much like a graduation! Completion certificates and scholarships were given out to over 200 hundred exchange students from all over the world! I really loved how there many students from all over Africa, Vietnam, Indonesia, the UK, Canada, and of course, the US. We got the opportunity to meet and take pictures with James Cook University's Vice Chancellor and President Professor Sandra Harding. It was such an honor finally meeting her and hearing her positive words for all international students. I also like at the beginning of each speech, each presenter thanked the indigenous people for allowing Australia to have such an outstanding educational institution build on their land.

My favorite speech of the evening though was from Ms. Lucky Kalyapu from Zambia. She is receiving her Masters of Biomedical Sciences along with an Australia scholarship. As her address of behalf of all international students, she went down the list of how just coming to Australia from another country was a big step and a decision worth thinking about. Using examples from her own life, she discussed how breaking through the cultural and language barriers were some of her best achievements. However what everyone left with at the end of the ceremony, was the fact when Lucky pointed out how in many of the countries some of the exchange students come from, education is not an important priority, however JCU opened the door for hundreds of students to receive some of the best educational opportunities around. She concluded how with this new knowledge, we can go back to our home countries and make things better where ever they need to. With a great sense of humor, she received the most rounds of applause than I've ever heard before...and she deserved it.
Me and Ms. Lucky Kalyapu 

Being here in Australia and at JCU reminds of being back in Hawaii at HPU. Townsville is truly a melting pot of different people from all around the globe, and I couldn't ask for anything better. I've met some really incredible people and together we shared our backgrounds and travels around the world to get to Australia. One thing that I noticed in addition, is that 90% of the international students had to travel to the opposite side of the planet just to get here. That really shows how not only do the teachers and staff, Vice Chancellor and President, and other leaders make up the atmosphere of the campus, but it is in fact the students because we are willing to travel great distances to meet new people in a new environment!

 Receiving my JCU Completion Certificate from the Vice Chancellor and President, Dr. Sandra Harding

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