August, 2016 Archive

Travelling for the soul: When children are better teachers!

Written by Student Life

“I never saw life the same way.”

Personally, travelling has always held a sense of fascination for me. You can unlock your mind and think of different possibilities, just by physically moving yourself to another place, experiencing its culture, living in its pulse and movement.

It’s usually true for most people, and this change might be more divine than words can explain. However, listening to other people’s perspectives has given me a glimpse of what it might be like. I came across an individual who went through this particular transition – Griffith, an Education student who went to volunteer in India as a volunteer teacher.

Roof thing

“I never saw life the same way,” replies Griffith. I had asked him how the journey changed his mindset. Such an experience must have made him see the world in another light.

The children previously lived life in poverty, something that he found different to what he was used to. He found it hardest to turn away beggars. Even though he wanted to help, it would just cause more beggars to crowd around him. Being there in person, Griffith realized that poverty is more than hashtags and powerful photography. Poverty is very real, and it made him resentful of the injustices people faced. He began to think how spoiled and ungrateful people in developed countries could seem in comparison.

What really affected him were the conditions the children live in before they managed to get help. “They had a really slim chance of making it into the world. It really broke my heart,” Griffith said as he recalls the children’s stories – abusive parents, abandonment, neglect.

However, Griffith says he felt warmth and generosity from the community, even if they had less than he did, and it was the same in the academy he taught at. It made him really happy that the children were in better condition now that they had shelter and food.

Cute Kid

Despite the children’s traumatic histories, there was a sense of happiness and peace. He didn’t feel distant even if he used hand gestures and sign language to help and interact with them. Even being able to buy the children gifts was another moment of happiness for him. It was something special regardless. And, after a while, they became a part of his world.

“They loved it. It was a chance for me to show them my world after they showed me theirs.” It was then that Griffith realized happiness really is in the smaller things. The children showed him the true meaning of “less is more”. Their laughter and delight was the simple joy he shared with them.


However, with joy comes sadness as he also came to a realization. Realistically, Griffith knows that there are more children in such terrible situations. What troubles him most is that time and life will continue. The stories of these children in pain will be left behind and forgotten. “I believe, as a teacher, education should go towards everyone. But, these kids couldn’t get it. And what really saddened me was life will move on. These kids will be a memory one day and…I cannot play another role in their future. That’s how life works.”

Although Griffith had the opportunity to teach, it was the children who had taught him an important lesson. When he returned home, he realized how much better it was for him to live simply and without luxurious materials. There were the little things to be grateful about and seek happiness from.

I found that his realisation really hit a nerve for me. It is so true that daily there are many children who suffer. Once in a while, an image of a child crying or starving might get media attention and cause an uproar. Maybe it’s an iconic symbol of their pain. But, eventually it becomes something of the past. It’s forgotten that such images are real people with names, dreams and aspirations. They cannot walk away from it like we can. Unfortunately, deciding which image to publicize does not get these children the help they need. But being able to help in any little way that we can will.

Despite all that has happened, they still smile

Despite all that has happened, they still smile

After listening to his story, as another local student experiencing life in another country, it encourages me to one day travel and venture out on my own too. It seems like there are so many lessons to learn from other people, like appreciating what you already have.

Where would you want to go next?



“I’m grateful for the experience. I highly recommend people to travel, outside your mama’s love.

It’s food for the soul.”

Photo credit: Griffith

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Study in Australia: Amy Sumin Wong

Written by Your Story

Have you ever heard the word “Ubuntu”?

According to Amy Sumin Wong, it is an ancient African word that means “I am, because you are” and highlights the interconnectedness of everyone and everything. As an only child, Amy can be quite independent and used to be doing things by myself. But this word reminds her that she is a part of a bigger picture and that no matter what country, background, status, job or anything.

We are all in this together and have profound effects on one another whether it is indirect or not. Amy also relates this to charity work. “As sometimes we can care so much about Australia and forget the issues of the rest of the world. But we are ultimately one humanity! It is not us versus them, but us AND them!”, Amy said.

2016YA_India_Kanpur 3 day 1 slum community_DSC05289
“Hi, I am Amy Sumin Wong, a World Vision Youth Ambassador and Committee Member of MASSA (Malaysian and Singaporean Society Association) at UTS. I am from New Zealand, but both of my parents are Malaysians. Hence, I did not need to learn a new language and the culture is more similar than moving to, for instance, China! I am recently on a gap year and thinking of continuing Engineering combined with Creative Intelligence and Innovation at UTS next year”.

In 2012, I came to Australia to complete my high school and it definitely was a massive change for me and a pivotal moment in my life. I was incredibly homesick for 2 years as everyone who knows me well knows that I am an extremely patriotic kiwi! Apart from that, I love how Australian universities rank so highly in the world and especially how UTS have access to such great resources and facilities! It is such a blessing that this is one of the first countries have them and we often take for granted.


This first time really widened my experiences and view of the world. It made me a lot more aware of different issues, cultures, worldviews and lifestyles! I love how diverse and multicultural it is in Australia, since it was less so back in Auckland. Although starting high school was definitely a challenge as I felt as the whole environment was quite different. I came from a high school where most people were quite nerdy in the fact that we all cared about doing well in our studies. However, my high-school in Australia was much more casual about it. Also, it was interesting trying to feel like I “belonged” in a place that was so different and foreign in culture to me.

Besides studying, I have part-time worked at Boost Juice and Nadia’s Café. These taught me efficiency, team-work and customer service skills that can be applied to all areas of life! I am currently a World Vision Youth Ambassador which is absolutely amazing. This is where I learnt public speaking skills, social media awareness skills, fundraising skills, networking skills and much more! All of these skills will be absolutely valuable in the workplace.


What is the best experience have you had in university?

I am a Committee Member on the MASSA group which is for Malaysian and Singaporean students! We host events such as parties, eating social gatherings and Malaysian-movie-nights and so on! It is super fun and I am so glad to be a part of such a great community within UTS. I highly suggest you all, newies or odies in a university, to join a group such as MASSA and get connected and involved in student societies and voluntary programs! This will be one of the best times of your life! And I have no regrets since I started university life.


What do you do to reduce stress or enjoy studying?

I need a clean room and space for studying! Also, I make sure I go out with friends and live a balanced life because that helps me to focus more when it comes to actual “study time”.

If you could give an advice for international students what would it be?

Right now, you might feel like you don’t belong or that Australia is not home. But Sydney is actually incredibly multi-cultural and welcoming of different cultures! Find a community of friends or society that you can plug into. There are so many amazing opportunities here, so get involved and the sky is the limit! I am from New Zealand and never thought I could be an ambassador for Sydney.


What would you say to inspire international students to get better in the future?
I would say: “Find something that makes you passionate and run with it! Keep a positive can-do attitude and don’t be afraid of failure! Be the best you that you can be!”

If I can do it, so can you!”

– Amy Wong

Photo credit: Amy Sumin Wong

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7 Heart-Touching Moments At Rio Olympics 2016

Written by News

This year’s Olympics, like every other, has been beautiful and significant. However, this time, it has hit many amazing milestones that show the world’s desire for unity and peace. Many instances have made historic achievements, fought against stereotypes and inspired all of us to push harder and reach the goals we want to achieve. With Rio now over, let’s look back at 7 instances which had touched the hearts of people world-wide.


1/ The first Hijabi to represent USA
Ibtihaj Muhammad is the first female athlete to represent the USA while wearing the hijab, a traditional Islamic garment. Muhammad has battled many cases of Islamaphobia in her daily life. However, she did not want such things to get her side tracked and lose hope in diversity, stating that she wants her team to be “as diverse as the community I grew up in.”

IbtihajNot only did she compete in the Olympics but she is also a part of a progressive movement that addresses a sensitive issue: Islamaphobia. She may not have won gold (she won bronze), but she has made Olympic history and won the hearts of a million.

2/ Unity in diversity 

In a display of Olympic sportsmanship, this picture shows two women, clad in two different attires, playing the same sports in the same field and with the same level of hard work and determination. They have different values, yet their value is measured by their will and spirit. This picture has become one of many iconic images of the Olympics, and that shows the symbol of unity everyone wishes to have in the Olympics.

2 cultures same achievement

3/ Winning Gold
When it comes to wishing to compete in the Olympics, it is a massive burden to reach Olympic state level and represent your country. However, one promising swimmer makes it look so easy. Joseph Schooling, met his idol, Micheal Phelps when he was only thirteen.

Little Schooling

Little Schooling

That day must have been fantastic for him back then, but not as amazing as the day he beat the idol himself. Schooling took first place with a Games record of 50.39 seconds while Phelps scored 51.14 seconds.

Annnd upgrade!

Annnd upgrade! It was Singapore’s first gold medal!

Getting inspired by your idol to work hard is cool, but winning gold against them is just another level of amazing.

4/ Sportsmanship between North and South Korean athletes
Despite the controversial history North and South Koreans , Gymnasts Lee Eun-Ju and Hong Un-jong did not let it get in the way of an adorable friendship.

Another incident was when the North Korean competitive shooter, Kim Song Guk, who won bronze said something that caught the hearts of millions. After South Koreas Jin Jong Oh had won gold, he said, “If the two (Koreas) become one, we could have a bigger medal”. “If both the gold and bronze medals came from one Korea, it could have been a much greater win.” A perfect example that politics should not divide people. This is another example of the united spirit of the Olympics.


5/ Saudi Arabia’s first female athlete to compete

Kariman Abuljadayel is the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in the 100m track field in the Olympics, creating history for the Middle Eastern world.


Many have praised the lady for the effort she put in and for aiding breakthroughs in stereotypes surrounding women in Saudi Arabia.

6/ Egypt’s first woman to stand on the podium

Sara Ahmed has also made Olympic history as the first Arab woman to win a medal in weightlifting and for being the first Egyptian woman on the rostrum. The 18 year old won bronze in the woman’s  69-kilogram weight class by lifting a combined weight of 225 kilograms.

gurl power

Ahmed is another inspiration to women all around the world, competing in her hijab and unitard, winning bronze and a spot in Olympic history wearing her religious identity proudly. Moreover, like Muhammad, she is a part of a progressive movement that fights against Islamophobia.

7/ The first-ever Refugee team

“Being a refugee does not mean you are not a human being.”

– Rose Nathike Lokonyen

For the first time, in the Olympics, there was a refugee team on the list. With the increasing political unrest around the world, this team is a symbol of hope for those who have fled home in order to save themselves. The members each have an inspiring story to share about their determination for survival from their dire circumstances. This comes to show that everyone just desires to live and wish to have a place to call home.


The crowd gave the 10 member Olympic refugee team a standing ovation as they marched into the Maracana Stadium for their first time. Regardless of whether they won a medal or not, they won the fight of their lives. And that, is simply amazing.

refugee team

The team consists of Yusra Mardini, Popole Misenga, Yonas Kinde, Rami Anis, Yolande Bukasa Masika, Yiech Pur Biel, Paulo Amotun Lokoro, James Chiengjiek, Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, Rose Nathike Lokonyen

Congratulations to all participating countries. Hopefully, in the future, there will be more amazing moments to come!

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4 lessons for First Years at University

Written by Student Life

You’re in the last year of school. Everyone’s thinking the same thing: you’re about to leave a place that has spoon-fed you for the last 6 years. And now, you’ve been told to “go face the real world”. Yes, the transition is quite dramatic. Yes, it might be the most strange and daunting but most meaningful experience. Yes, it might force you to think differently. However, you’ve made it through semester one, and finally got a taste of the awaited “university life”. Now, it’s time to reflect and apply the lessons we’ve learnt.

Lesson 1: Constant effort is required

University is not someplace where you show up for lectures “just because”, procrastinate and nick off your lecturer’s notes. That’s called “slipping through the cracks” and that only works in high school when our teachers were always there to push us. However, in University, around ninety percent of studying is done by individual research and note taking. It’s almost impossible to earn a decent mark through our high school ways.

UNSW EDSOC President Emma Tang phrases her advice as “University is not a place where things are given to you on a silver platter. It is challenging and requires a plethora of critical thinking, and if you want to make the most out of it, you have to carve out your own opportunities.”

it gon be hard werk

Lesson 2: Making friendship circles are important

In high school, did you ever have a friend who was just your friend because you saw them five times a day? Well, that’s only because you had an easy way to get into contact. In high school, class times and break times were fixed, allowing you to bond with your friends without much effort. However, it’s different in university. It’s so important to make friends in university and keep in touch with the high school friends you truly love. In times of hardships or trouble, your friends are your pillars of support who know what you’re going through.


Lesson 3: Having a balance through time management is so so important

If you are one of those students who balanced school life with work and extracurricular activities, this might be a bit easier for you. However, for most people, it’s crucial to know that university is not all about placing your mind, body and soul into study. Working, socializing and time management are essential and important. They are the center of your university life. Unlike school, you’ll now need to handle more “adult stuff” which could range from more work shifts or trying to find financial stability, moving out and so on.


Lesson 4: University broadens your outlook of the world

Even though you’re one in an ocean of students, it’s less restrictive than school. It allows you to expand and grow your mindset. It’s all up to you to spread your boundaries and explore what is beyond your comfort zones. It’s all about moving forward even if you don’t necessarily want to, but need to in order to grow.

Many times in my high school years and from current high schoolers, I regularly hear “Will I be good enough?” “What if I can’t cope?” “What if it’s too hard for me?” Students always worry about not being able to put up with the pace because of constant assurances of people claiming that “University is much harder” or “After high school, get ready for ‘the real world'”.

What is “the real world”, anyway? It has a very broad definition and that’s for you to decide. Of course, in university you’re required to be self-sufficient and independent. However, after experiencing a semester, is the “real world” that terrifying? Not really. It may be harder, but that’s what makes you stronger. University brings on many challenges foreign to you. But, stay in your lane and keep pushing forward. It may be hard, but it’s not impossible.

Bruce the legend Lee

Everything falls into your own two hands after graduation. It’s up to you to take control of your situation since no one else is held responsible for it neither will they take responsibility for it. Don’t get paranoid or afraid. Make an effort to reach out to as many opportunities as you can, stay on top of your game and when things get hard take it one step at a time and you will be fine.

Believe in yourself!

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What types of food do Olympians eat?

Written by Health

It’s now a couple of weeks into semester and you might be running low on energy. With Rio 2016 done, here’s a list of food items inspired by the athletes.

For the elite athletics, food is just more than a form of art, but a source of energy. It boosts performance and maintains an active and focused mindset for days intense training sessions and exhausted games. Thus, a typical Olympian requires more than 3 prominent meals a day with an extra post-workout snack after training.

DWAYNE JOHNSON – THE ROCK is an extreme eater consuming more than 15000 kcals a day for 150 days

HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 22: Actor Dwayne Johnson arrives at the "Faster" Los Angeles Premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 22, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD – NOVEMBER 22: Actor Dwayne Johnson arrives at the “Faster” Los Angeles Premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on November 22, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Black beans or any types of beans

Damaris Phillip's Coconut Lime Black Beans for Taco Tuesday as seen on Food Network's Southern At Heart

Damaris Phillip’s Coconut Lime Black Beans for Taco Tuesday as seen on Food Network’s Southern At Heart

Similar to almond, it is the highest nutritionist and vibe for the body, which keeps the athletes feeling fuller for longer.

Almond or peanut butter


According to an American journal of clinical nutrition, almond contains 20% fewer calories than other food but have the same amount of energy and protein as well as micronutrients to meet the requirement. This allows the athletes to avoid losing power or skipping meals and to prevent being dehydrated.



Water is an essential element in the body as 70% of the body is water. Water keeps the body hydrated and flushes any toxins from the inner system.

Green tea

aaaaa aaaaa aaaaa

Green tea is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that aids weight loss, a higher metabolic rate for the body and physical performance enhancement. This is done by mobilising fatty acids from fat tissues. The caffeine in tea also increases the concentration of neurotransmitters and other neurons to increase concentration and help memory.



Salmon contains Omega 3s and fatty acids to regulate the heart rhythm. It frees any blockages in arteries, avoiding heart-related diseases as well as obesity.

Greek Yogurt


Delicious Greek yogurt is an ideal post-workout indulgence for the athletes. Yogurt replenishes glycogen stores and provides protein for the small tears incurred in muscles during training sessions. Greek yogurt has high protein and low sugar level which keeps energy levels high during grueling workouts.


Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 3.49.15 AM

Eating eggs can give an additional benefit in weight management. Egg yolk is a source of vitamins and minerals such as zinc. Without an adequate amount of zinc, it may leave you feeling sluggish, decrease your immune function and delay healing.



Oatmeal brings a spike of energy levels giving the body sufficient and long-term fuel, helping the athlete to maintain peak performance and concentration.

However, Olympic athletes all have their cheat day as any other human.



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Study in Australia: Nurafiqah Adabiah binti Yusof

Written by Your Story

“What’s life without a bit of a challenge!”

Agree?! Let’s meet Nurafiqah Adabiah binti Yusof, a Malaysian teenage girl who soon to be 18, and see how is a life of a teenager studying in Australia.


Cre: VOIS Magazine

I am currently living in Sydney and just finished a diploma in accounting at TAFE. I was residing in Saudi Arabia with my family and did high school there. Choosing Australia to study mainly because I have always wanted to go to this country, where the accent is unique, nature is beautifully filled with beaches and parks. It is also close to Malaysia and a little bit cheaper than universities in America. Plus, I have a friend who is studying in Sydney so my parents thought “Why not? At least I will have a friend.” I came to Australia last year in August. In the beginning, I had a little issue of making friends, but as class started, I managed to make a couple of friends. I also had a few difficulties with public transport because I have never had to use it before.

Apart from a few difficulties with public transport because I have never had to use it before, moving to Australia has not changed much about me. This is because I have been overseas basically my whole life. I do feel incredibly humbled to be able to study abroad and meet people from various cultures and backgrounds. It enriches my understanding of the world and helps me learn ways to coexist. One of the best things about Australia is that I think Aussie accent is distinctive and lovely, but I still have an American-ish accent.

IMG_1148Although I have a close friend in Sydney, sadly we do not usually meet. This is because I am underaged, and I have to stay in a homestay. There are rumours of how terrible homestay life is, according to many international teenagers. However, the woman I am staying with is such a pleasure to be around. She comes from Greek, is a widow and her children are both married and have their kids now. She cooks great food and always makes me feel welcome at home, especially when she has some friends coming over. My host is pretty chill if you just follow the rules and do not be rude.


“Be open to various opportunities and don’t be afraid to take small (or big) steps out of your comfort zones to improve yourself. It is all about learning and enjoying the process.”

A challenge I faced when I first started TAFE was trying to understand what is being taught in class. I had never done Accounting before, and I was afraid that it would be a boring subject. Though it may be challenging at times, Accounting is a versatile field, and every industry will need an accountant. It was not bad after all.


I was lucky to have a reference point for when things in the class did not make any sense to me, and it was a friend of my mum’s who teaches Accounting in the University. I asked her for help with some homework assignments. Also, I had a study group with a few people from my class. It was great to collaborate on questions and learn things from each other.

To reduce stress, I watch some TV shows or a movie. Also, I might go out with friends over the weekend and enjoy what Sydney has to offer, and sometimes I record those adventures too. I also love photography, and for my photography, you can find it on my blog at


My objective is to make something of myself to support my passions and goals. Short term goals would be to survive the first year of university and to enjoy it at the same time. I plan to go to higher education after TAFE. It may be an Accounting degree at University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). I choose Accounting basically due to its versatile, and every industry needs one although it will be hard for me. However, hey, what’s life without a bit of a challenge!

I have not figured out the specifics of my long term goals yet, but right now it is probably just to get a job and settle down here.


The first step is to make myself open to different opportunities and taking baby steps out of my comfort zones. If I had not stepped out of my comfort zone, I would not have gotten the internship position at VOIS Magazine! So I am glad that worked out. I sent my resume to VOIS after I saw an ad in the MASSA group that Thi posted and a few days after, I went for an interview. Then a few more days after, I was accepted as an intern. At the moment, I am an intern but probably soon become a writer.

If you could give advice for international students what would it be?

“You will always be able to find home away from home if you let yourself.”

What would you say to inspire international students to get better in the future?

“Everyone has got their way of studying so it is important for you to figure yours out so that you can always try your best at school. Understand what works for you and roll with it.”


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“No Compensation For Thousands of International Students”: The Airlines Ticket Scam

Written by News

Earlier this year, January 2016, in a letter sent to the NSW Police, more than 300 international students around Sydney and Melbourne had been cheated when buying airline tickets via Facebook ‘Vi Tran’. However, last week the culprit has been caught and convicted.


This woman, who went by the name Vi Tran, was convicted of 313 counts of fraud, misappropriation of up to 466 000 AUD and has received 18 months of Intensive Correction Order. Detective Nolan Bennett, from Sydney Property Investigation Team of the NSW Police, explained this punishment as a detention at home. It includes 32 hours contributing to community service per month. This can be a considered as alternative constraints (detailed at the State Parole Authority Justice pages of NSW).


Victims unable to claim money back

Unfortunately, although My Truc Le was ordered to refund the damage to the victims, the highest amount that the local court could obtain was $100 thousand dollars ($100.000 AUD).

According to Detective Nolan, it may not be possible that the victims will receive any compensation.


Because, even if the Court ordered (compensation), but if the defendant can not pay, then it just turned into a command debt…Despite knowing that it will cause frustration for you (the victim), but the police we can not do anything to help you get back the money.” – Detective Nolan stated in the letter that was sent to the victims.

The account under MY TRUC LE name

The account under MY TRUC LE’s name

When the case became widespread on the news earlier this year, My Truc Le’s family in Vietnam had promised to refund money to the victims. However, there has been no sign of this compensation.

giphy (14)

Detective Bennett Nolan also added that, if they want to pursue it to the end, they must follow it as individuals. However, he also reiterated, if the defendant does not have money, then things will be difficult.

In April 2016, when the case was first heard, SBS News held an interview with Toan Nguyen, a lawyer. His answer as to whether the victims will receive compensation was that it would be unpredictable.

Due to my experience, the chance to be compensated at 100% is rare. Also, there may be no authority or organisation for compensation.

giphy (5)

Except for those people who have purchased any travel insurance, they are possibly claiming money from their insurance depending on the insurance policies of those who bought airline tickets.“- said by lawyer Toan.

To those who wished to to pursue and reclaim their lost money, individuals are advised to contact a lawyer or visit the Access Law Section: Does someone owe you money?

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UPDATE: No Fines For Late Census form Submission

Written by Editor’s Picks, News

Last night around 5:00 pm Sydney time, the website stopped responding and the phone lines were down because millions of people who are living, working and studying in Australia were trying to submit their Census form before its due date.


And at 8:00 pm, the website completely crashed because it was overloaded. The system breakdown had left behind numbers of confused and terrified living inhabitants, and the census issue was all over social media platforms last night across Australia with the hashtag #censusfail. Some international students gave up after continually logging and refreshing the Internet server and seeking friends’ assistance.


So is there a fine after all?

After acknowledging the problem, the Census Australia Facebook page has continuously updated their situation and announced “There will be no penalties for completing the Census after August 9. There’s still plenty of time to complete the Census.”


According to Chris Libreri, general manager of the Census and Statistical Network division from “No one has ever been fined for being late with their Census form, the fines are only if you eyes-open refuse to a Census collector.”

ABS has informed people that the final date for completing the Census form is 23rd September 2016. So there is still plenty of time to fill in your accurate information and submit it without a 180 AUD per day fine.

giphy (3)

What if I accidentally threw the letter in the bin or I haven’t received the form or the code?

1/ A Census collector could knock on your door to ask you to complete the form.

2/You can contact the Census Inquiry Service 1300 214 531 (you might have to wait another two days for a call back)

This was how Facebook was done back in the day (

 form (

3/ You can revisit the website to order the form and code online

If you would like help filling out the form, give the Translation and Interpreter Service a call on 131 450.

 What exactly is the Census?

It's this thing (

It’s this thing (

It is a legal form that must be completed by every individual living in Australia on the night. The information collected creates an extensive database of details such as marriage status, religion (the only question that is optional), racial background and income. This helps determine where taxpayer money will be best spent – in health, transport and infrastructure, education and so on.

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ISLA 2015/2016 Program Completion Ceremony

Written by Editor’s Picks, Student Life

On Tuesday, August 2nd, the International Student Leadership and Ambassador (ISLA) group held a completion ceremony in the grand Reception Room located in Town Hall. This reception was held to mark the successful completion of ISLA’s 2015/2016 program. The immaculate room was filled with people such as the international student ambassadors in the program, their friends and family, the students’ institution representatives, the police, Consulate Corp, international education sector key stakeholders, and NGOs. Guests were served delicious finger food as they socialized. Though the weather was damp, guests and student ambassadors didn’t let that dampen their mood and spirits.


Selected student ambassadors were given the chance to speak about their journey in this program. Mi Lainmar Oo, one of the student ambassadors, acknowledged in her speech that when she first arrived in Sydney, she struggled. She was nervous, homesick, and struggled to keep track of her life in university, just like any other international student. “If you get scared of doing something, are you going to end your life without doing anything?” is a question Mi Lainmar asked herself after a few months of studying here. She had realized that life within her comfort zones was not beneficial in any way and sought out a way to explore and push herself. That’s when she joined ISLA. She has found out who she is through the various self-development programs that ISLA offers. She’s greatly improved her confidence and found various ways to help the community.


Another noted speaker was Zaki Haidari. Even though Sydney was chilly, his speech warmed the hearts of everyone in the room. He spoke of how his father was the first in his family to be educated, a doctor. Because Afghanistan is a developing country, the medicine had to be imported from overseas and so, everything had to be written in English. His father would travel regularly to Kabul to collect medicine but one day, one journey back from Kabul in 2011, changed Zaki’s life. His father was stopped by the Taliban. His van searched. The Taliban found documents in English and accused his father of helping international organisations like NATO. Zaki has never heard from his father since. After that fateful day, he was targeted by the Taliban and spent 5 months traveling, seeking asylum.


The final part of his journey was the most frightening, Zaki was traveling from Jakarta to Christmas Island but instead of the trip taking 24 hours, he spent 5 days at sea. Zaki came to Australia to seek asylum and to seek peace. With only $100, limited English, no access to education or work rights, Zaki was isolated and stumped. But with the support from the Australian community, he was given a 3 year scholarship from Martin College. His education dream was becoming true, something that was impossible back in Afghanistan. When he first started at Martin College, he had only a few international students so he was really keen on meeting other international folks. In 2015, he was given the opportunity to join ISLA.


That was the first group that made him feel part of the community, through the events and workshops provided. He can clearly see the changes when comparing when he first started out and where he is now — he was shy and cannot speak in public. But through ISLA, he has been given many opportunities to step out of his comfort zone and talk about his experiences in front of crowds. And through his involvement with ISLA, he’s been awarded the NSW International Student Of The Year Award.

IMG_4020At the end of the speeches, the audience was treated to an original song written by one of the ambassadors. “You Are My World” was a heartfelt song written by Tian Qin. She reflects on the adventures she had over the past 18 months with her fellow ISLA student ambassadors. Everyone was attentive while Tian Qin and her friend, Joanita Wubowo, along with two guitarists performed the original. “I am strong when you’re with me…I’m home when I’m with ISLA…Forever I wish I could stay,” sang Tian Qin and her friend. The song made me realize how tight of a bond they’ve created with each other at ISLA and I found myself itching to join and establishing connections with other international students.


Through ISLA and the City of Sydney, student ambassadors have been able to meet new friends, get to know more about the city, and build leadership skills of youth leaders in the communities. Examples of events coordinated by ISLA and the City of Sydney include Journey to the Center of Sydney tours for newly-arrived international students, international student networking events, employment panel to provide advice and support to other international students, and a Youth Leadership Conference for both local and international students to develop their leadership skills.


To conclude, Susana Ng, the Senior Community Program Officer, gave a short and sweet speech congratulating the ambassadors. “Standing here today, I can’t help but feel like a proud parent, attending my kids’ graduation ceremony,” remarked Susana as the audience chuckled. She recollects the purpose of ISLA and how each and every one of the ambassadors have achieved their goals to aid and build strong international youth leaders. She then congratulated all those that made the ISLA program possible, the Mayor, Councillor Kok, the City of Sydney and their interns, international education partners, government and non government organisations.

“In the next few weeks, we will start our new round of ISLA recruitment,” Susana informs.

“So please encourage your students to apply and promote the ISLA program to your network.” Concluding her speech, Susana quotes an ancient Chinese proverb on friendship and urges the student ambassadors to stay connected to each other, Sydney, and Australia no matter how close or far away they may be

“An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle but it would never break.”

The night ends with some more socializing before everyone is ushered out by security. Waiters continued serving food to the guests as they finished up their round of networking. We say our thanks to Susana for inviting the VOIS team to this prestigious event that certainly opened my eyes to such an amazing opportunity as an international student. To quote Zaki’s friend Fabian, “If you live in Sydney, you don’t need to travel the world because you have the world in Sydney.”

13350259_1033595023394196_508655237142271836_oWhat’s it like for you to study in Sydney as an international student? Use the hashtag #myfuturesydney to read about other students’ stories or to publish your own!

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5 cheap snacks for a healthy body

Written by Health

Besides doing cardio exercises for losing belly fat, providing a reasonable amount of food will help your workout become more effectively. Many of us love snacks and fast food, but due to the consultation from multiple sources, the experts suggest the top 5 common food that can become our daily snack which supply energy without causing the excess grease preventive:

1 / Almonds:

Almonds contain protein, fiber, and vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. It also contains magnesium, a mineral that is vital for the production of energy, build and maintain muscle tissue and regulates blood sugar. Always keeping some almonds in bags will highly replenish energy and restrain the hunger.


2 / Bananas:

Bananas contain a high amount in potassium, a substance that helps limit the amount of sodium in our body. Eating a banana every day to reduce swelling and cramps effectively, especially avoid abdominal fat accumulation.


3 / Soybeans:

Soybeans contain enough protein, fibre and antioxidants. The foods containing soybeans easily carried away include tofu (would recommend cooked as soup rather than fried) and milk.


4 / Apples:

A big apple contains fibre and 85% water, to help you quickly feel full. Eating one or two apple to not worry about the junk food cravings.


5/ Dark chocolate 70% (or 80% or 90%):

Dark chocolate which contains more than 70% cocoa containing compounds protect against heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. My favorite brand is Lindt – Dark Chocolate 90%!



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