Eat Like A Refugee for One Week: Ration Challenge

Written by News, Student Life

My name is Sumaiyah Tasneem, and I have attempted the Act for Peace Ration Challenge of 2016. If I were to write this article talking about every minute of my experience, I could go on writing forever. But, let’s start with:

What is the Ration Challenge?

From the 19th until the 25th of June, contestants are challenged to eat the same rations as a Syrian refugee for a week and raise donations for them. In doing so, the participants will experience a small part of a refugee’s struggle and contribute awareness about refugee life. Through the power of compassion, we can show refugees that “we are with them, not against them”.


The idea of the Ration Challenge is an initiative of The ACT Alliance, a network of 140 organisations and 130 countries. This foundation works to help communities threatened by conflict and disaster. Together with the Act for Peace, they hope to achieve easier lives for Syrian refugees. Act for Peace is an agency focusing on international aid which belongs to and is governed by the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) which consists of 19 member churches.



My experiences before the Challenge:

Initially, the primary focus for me were donations. As soon as I opened my fundraising page, I told friends, family, acquaintances, cat and dogs, anyone who would give a donation. Personally, the page had felt like direct access to help to the refugees, so I considered this challenge as one of the easiest ways to help people in need. I was busy encouraging everyone to donate to the cause in general, but I didn’t really sit down to think about what the Challenge would be like. I hadn’t fully comprehended how hard it would actually be. Logically, I knew that it would be painful as my Challenge Kit contained basic rice, flour, lentils, and oil. However, I didn’t know how painful exactly. I never knew food had such a significant impact in my life, and that hunger could change so many things. 


During the Challenge:

So, how does it feel doing the Challenge? To put it frankly, there is solid hunger involved. Usually, you only think about physical pain. You’re trying not to get side tracked and lose your focus (which is against the challenge’s rules of course). 

Whenever it was time to eat, I was baffled by the satisfaction I felt after simply having bread or lentils. I also found it extremely hard to sleep in such a state. On the first night, I slept on my stomach, but woke up numerous times because I felt my torso twist and turn painfully. 


Apart from the physical pain, there are many other obstacles involved when it comes to battling hunger. My mood was never fixed. I was always either happy or sad, angry or hungry, but mostly dull and sullen. Focusing on work or study was almost impossible. My mind was all over the place. One thought led to another, and at some point I realised that it could have been a refugee. This is what life is like for a refugee. It was terrifying to imagine their life in a war-zone additionally, constantly threatened by the potential loss of friends and family. It was almost too surreal even to consider. 


After the Challenge:

I have realised that before doing the Challenge, there was a certain extent of ignorance about the experiences of refugees. But, if I hadn’t done this challenge, I wouldn’t have known how hard it is for them to live on such small rations. Residing in Australia, a developed country, I had the chance to live their hunger and a little part of the pain that comes with it.

tears of joy

Now, I see that life is incredibly complex when hunger is involved. And it’s not just food or physical hunger. It’s also the emotional suffering when having to bear these tribulations all at once. Not only do they have minimal food and no security of a home, but must also cope with the trauma of a war zone. These people are facing their lives now with raw vulnerability and an impending sense of doom. Being completely in the shoes of refugees is a lot harder than we could ever understand. I wasn’t acutely aware of the reality of the refugees. Perhaps no one truly can be until they have experienced it themselves.

The power of humanity is winning

I would encourage everyone to try this Challenge at least once as I believe we can ultimately help one of the most marginalised groups in the world. By understanding the experiences of the refugees, we can use our power as a society to change laws and sway governments in their favour. In participating in the Challenge, you can also help the organisations who can provide them with more food rations. If we don’t help, then who will?


As of now, the current statistics on the Ration Challenge page show that $2,023,952 has been raised. That is enough to feed 7,254 refugees for a whole year! You can view the changing numbers here. If you wish to donate to the cause, you can sponsor some of the participants of the Challenge. Or, if you wish to attempt it in 2017, you can pre-register here.


Photo credit: Sumaiyah Tasneem & ChiPheo & Huu Trong Nguyen

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‪#‎YOUthCANLEAD Youth Leadership Conference

Written by Editor’s Picks, News

Sydney was raining cats and dogs over the first weekend of June 2016, but it was extremely heated at the ‪#‎YOUthCANLEAD Youth Leadership Conference, organized by City of Sydney and ISLA. It was a fantastic full day event with leadership activities, honored guest panel and, last but not least, the mind-blowing Human Sound Project. I was kindly invited by VOIS Magazine to experience the Youth Leadership Conference and learn what it means to be a great leader.

youth leadership photo 2

The speakers shared their experiences as successful young adults. They said, among other pieces of wisdom, that a leader must be able to listen to people. Participating in group games also fostered thoughts about myself: “What are your capabilities?”, “What sort of leader do you want to be?” and “How can you optimize yourself to lead better?” It was a game in which we had to raise our creative visions to think of ideas that could help develop the community.


The Human Sound Project‎ was the most spectacular finale. The lyrics were composed by words related to leadership that each group had brainstormed during the day. By singing and moving, we released our internal power and were unified by our motivation to lead.


At first, we had no clue how the program worked. However, after following the instructions, everyone was surprised at the amazing audio their performance created. If anyone attended VIVID on the 10th of June, VIVID: The Human Sound Project – Interactive Song Making Experiences will give you an idea of how the project was run by such a large group.

youth leadership photo 1

This was the first ever conference I have joined, and it was an impressive introduction. Despite the severe weather, ISLA remained professional and organized, even providing a hotline phone number in case there were any issues. I met old friends and made new ones, networked and took photos to save the moments. It was a great break after a hectic week of assignments and a heavy workload.


As I sat in the heart of Sydney, among more than a hundred students from nationalities such as America, African and Japanese, it reminded me of the reason I chose Australia to study – multi-culture. I realized that this event was also successful in teaching me one last lesson: that leadership was also about connecting people with different personalities together.


I would send a heartwarming thank you to the City of Sydney for creating such an enjoyable experience. It has helped young people have more faith in themselves, widen their knowledge and network and start to be successful leaders of the future. I am looking forward to more events from the City of Sydney or ISLA as equally as extraordinary as this one.

YOUth can lead!

Photo credit: VOIS M and ISLA 

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Students of SCA hold vigil on Art Gallery steps

Written by News

“Creativity is innate but culture is fostered.”

~ Agatha Gothe Snape


On Friday, 15/7/16, USYD’s Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) students and alumni, as well as supporters, held vigils at 11 am and 5 pm on the steps of the Art Gallery of NSW. The vigils were to protest SCA’s closure by the University of Sydney, proposed on the 21st of June without any consultation. SCA’s merge will force current students to transfer to University of New South Wales to continue their studies from Semester 1, 2017.

Dressed in red capes to show their unity, SCA students welcomed Barry Keldoulis to the stage. Once a candidate for the Arts Party, he addressed the fact that the proposal was not made with the people who it matters and affects most. He also encouraged the support of the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA).

Barry Keldoulis speaks first

Barry Keldoulis speaks first


Anthony Albanese, as part of the newly elected federal government, also had a few words to say: “Sydney is a global city…[which] values the enrichment art gives”. Without many local artists bringing cultural diversity to Sydney, businesses, residents and the community as a whole will be affected.

Anthony Albanese addresses the public and media

Anthony Albanese addresses the public and media


Alumni from SCA, such as Tim Silver, also graced the podium. Silver believes that since art is assorted, one art institution under UNSW will not allow the full and true experience of art. Not only that, but he argues that a single school, despite how excellent, will be easily controlled by the state.

Tim Silver speaks

Tim Silver speaks


Lionel Bawden, another SCA Alumni and previous winner of the prestigious Wynne Prize, said that our “arts education is murdered”. Sydney’s College of the Arts has a unique studio-based education that serves an entry point for people from all different levels of life. The students’ protest were not fighting only for their education but for the education of future students.

As one presenting within the walls of the Art Gallery, the artist had many things to say

As one presenting within the walls of the Art Gallery, the artist had many things to say


The last alumni to take the microphone was Agatha Gothe Snape, a SCA alumni who has exhibited in the Art Gallery of New South Wales previously. She spoke of the “weirdness” that was common with all the greatest artists past and present, a trait that could only be helped by a place that fostered growth. Without the history and politics that the college represents, Sydney’s art and public will not be deeply informed. By agreeing to merge SCA with UNSW, the University of Sydney will be going back on its promise made 25 years ago, to protect the art and creativity of its individuals.

Agatha Gothe Snape spoke powerful words at the SCA protest

Agatha Gothe Snape spoke powerful words at the SCA vigil


By holding the vigils on the same day as the Art Gallery’s opening of one of the most famed art prizes in Australia, the Archibald Prize, SCA’s supporters hoped to highlight the importance of the college. However, as of now, students still do not have any solid information regarding their future.

Visit Sydney College of the Arts Resistance (S.C.A.R) at for more information, or their Facebook page, or follow #sossca on Instagram.


Photo credit: VOIS Magazine

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New-Update For PR (Permanent Resident) Application

Written by Editor’s Picks, News

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) have released the new Skilled Occupations List (SOL) for 2016-17. This list will be in effect from 1st July 2016.

Two new occupations have been added to the SOL from 1st July 2016, these are:

  •  Orthotist or Prosthetist (ANZSCO 251912)
  • Audiologist (ANZSCO 252711)

A few of occupations have been removed from the SOL list from 1st July 2016, these are:

  • Mining Engineer (Excluding Petroleum) (ANZSCO 233611)
  • Petroleum Engineer (ANZSCO 233612)
  • Metallurgist (ANZSCO 234912)
  • Environmental Health Officer (ANZSCO 251311)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Adviser (ANZSCO 251312)
  • Dental Hygienist (ANZSCO 411211)
  • Dental Prosthetist (ANZSCO 411212)
  • Dental Technician (ANZSCO 411213)
  • Dental Therapist (ANZSCO 411214).

sol-page-001 sol-page-002 sol-page-003 sol-page-004 sol-page-005 sol-page-006


There are 4777 places for accountants in the 2016-2017 program year, but half of the places will be set for applicants in 2015-2016 and the rest will be for 2016-2017 applications. The situation is also the same with the occupation ceiling of chef’s applications.



For more information about the Occupation List and Ceiling: Australian Government – Department of Immigration and Border Protection


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University of Sydney Art School merges with UNSW

Written by Editor’s Picks, News

Recent changes have occured for students at the Sydney College of the Arts (SCA), University of Sydney’s visual art faculty.

Students taking art courses and degrees at SCA will be transferred to the University of New South Wales, starting first semester of 2017. The consultation and communication process on this agreement is ongoing with SCA Staff.


Undergraduate students at SCA were informed about this change on Tuesday. The students can choose between continuing the degree with SCA until graduation or transfer to a UNSW degree/course (UNSW’s Art & Design school), which will be run by UNSW.

However, for SCA Master’s and PhD students, there has been no confirmation as of yet regarding whether UNSW or SCA will supervise their theses and projects.


If this agreement with UNSW does not proceed, the University is planning to transfer SCA to the main campus under the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, according to Deputy Vice-Chancellor Tyrone Carlin.



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Youth Leadership Conference 2016

Written by News, Student Life

Youth Conference 2016Youth Conference 2016

We would like to express our gratitude to ISLA for creating such an amazing conference and having VOIS Magazine onboard.

It was great to meet many other leaders around Sydney and we have seen many other stories of leaders how they changed the world with small but brave steps.

Here is the highlight of the day and enjoy!!

Videographer: Datu Steffel

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons:
By Attribution 3.0 License
#vois #youth #youthcanlead

Posted by VOIS Magazine on Tuesday, June 21, 2016

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Youth Leadership Conference 2016

Written by Editor’s Picks, News, Student Life

Australia is ranked in the top 10 places for entrepreneurship and opportunities due to a multicultural living environment and the open migration policy of the government.  According to international rankings released last week, Australia is the second best place in the world to be for female entrepreneurs.


More and more young local and international university or high-school students are starting to establish their own start-up business and are taking leadership positions in numerous clubs, societies or non-profit organizations in Australia.

However, many people have given up their dreams and passion for taking a lead because they are struggling to find the right person to ask for help when facing hardships and challenges during their journey.

Especially with international students, some of them have great time-management and problem-solving abilities to help them become amazing and charismatic leaders; but they are lacking confidence and are shy because of their backgrounds; even with “fluent” and “proficient” English speaking capability.  They might miss out on the chance to find themselves and enjoy their time while studying in Australia.


The Youth Leadership Conference 2016 hosted by the City of Sydney and ISLA (International Student Leadership Ambassadors) is a great chance for young leaders within New South Wales to seek professional and mental support,  with millions of dollars worth of advice and unexpected networks.

At the conference, participants have the chance to ask many questions to the panel (such as Nicole Lamb from Owlkeyme, Phil White from Fundamental, Simon Jankelson from The Human Sound Project, Thea Soutar from Youth Food Movement and Pola Fanous from Insert Title or Organization).

There will be a fun dance performance from Owlkeyme and lots of free workshops to enhance your leadership skills.  Participants also receive a great lunch and sweet treats from the City Council.



More information about Youth Leadership Conference 2016:
When: 9:30am registration for 10am start and 5pm close
Lunch will be provided
Cost: Free – bookings essential!


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Makan Makan 2016

Written by Editor’s Picks, News, Student Life

All of us, as humans, have certain things about ourselves that differentiate us from others. However, there’s one thing among the countless number that we universally love: food! It’s one of the best ways to celebrate and begin sharing cultures.

I was fortunate enough to experience this at the Makan Makan event held in UTS and organised by MASSA (Malaysian and Singaporean Student Association) of UTS. The name of the event, (Makan Makan) translates to “eat”. Which was basically what the event was. It was a huge crowd of students being spoiled rotten with amazing Malaysian and Singaporean food. It was great to be able to spend time with such a fun and loving community.

front space 2

This event was organised and executed by MASSA but members from other universities were present to provide the organisers with moral support. At roughly around 6:30 pm people had started to line up for registration. The crowd had gotten massive; the line only kept extending and it was the longest when people lined up for food.

food by itselfbeautiful piano piece

People began to settle down when it was time for performances which made the night even better. They included entertaining musical performances, musical bands, piano solos and even the demonstration of Silat, which is a Malaysian martial arts style, as well as mini trivia games in between.

badass ladies

smile while gettin food

The Makan Makan event has been running successfully for an incredible 21 years, and the number of students attending increase each time. The main aim was to get students together, celebrate unity, culture and promote diversity.

“The best way to share a culture is through food.” Said Wong Dao Min, the artistic director of MASSA. “Malaysian food has got that spice and texture and I love to share that experience with people and promote diversity. That’s what the event is all about.” Furthermore, he said that the best way to appreciate a culture is when you’re with friends and a community in general to share it with. Being relatively new to his position, he is determined to continue the good work, strengthen bonds and shine the right kind of light on the Malaysian and Singaporean culture.


smile yo

The event did exactly that. I had never tried the Malaysian and Singaporean food, so I had no clue what was being put on my plate. However, every single thing tasted delightful and I started to wonder why I hadn’t tried this cuisine earlier. Overall the event was insightful and enjoyable and everyone had a great time.



I would like to thank everyone at the event which made me feel welcome in their community and for introducing me to the Malaysian and Singaporean culture (and food). The Cultural Director also has a little message for all you readers: “If you are interested in the Malaysian and Singaporean Culture, then come over and join us! We’re always ready for you!”

ladies smile yo


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Changes in Student Visa from 1st July 2016

Written by Editor’s Picks, News

Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection has announced a new change for student visa application, starting from 1st July 2016.

There will be only one student visa when studying in Australia as visa subclass 500 no matter the differences of your study field.

So after 1st July 2016, when you apply for student visa for your Master degree, you will hold student visa subclass 500. If someone was to apply for a Bachelor degree, they will also have the same visa subclass as yours.

Your family members, who may want to join you in Australia during your study period, will also hold the visa subclass 500 after the 1st July 2016.

Students, holding a current visa subclass from 570 to 576, will remain valid and the change will not impact on the conditions and rights of the current visa status.

For more information please check BORDER.GOV.AU or email VOIS for assistance.

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41st year of Liberation Day in Vietnam (30/4/1975 – 30/4/2016)

Written by Editor’s Picks, News


Leo Bui

This year, 30/4 and 1/5 happens on this weekend so people in Vietnam has 4 days off until the next Wednesday. Over a week before April 30th, visitors to Hanoi, Hue, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City will see eye-catchily brightened with Vietnamese flags, red with a yellow star, banners and neon lights. Likewise, festival zones are decorated to be spots for a parade or the stage for a national live show.

Vietnamese Liberation Day (Ngày Giải phóng or Ngày Giải phóng miền Nam) is also called Reunification Day (Ngày Thống nhất) which is a public holiday in Vietnam that marks the end of the Vietnam War (Kháng Chiến Chống Mỹ), commonly known as the “American War”. (9)

Troops enter the grounds of Independence Palace (Photo by Francoise de Mulder/Corbis)


Reo Studio

It was the morning of April 30, 1975, and North Vietnamese tanks were thundering towards their last military target: Saigon. Those tanks were an indication that the war in Vietnam was at long last over, imprints the fall of Saigon government, as the end the Vietnam War and the freedom of Vietnam’s southern part.

Today it is one of the major Vietnam festivals and events. Therefore, fireworks and cultural-sport activities mark their national reunification.



Source: Vietnam Visa Easy

  • Hoan Kiem Lake area organised cultural performances art (Culture and Art), sports; Television Cycling Cup in Ho Chi Minh City in 2016 and 41 years since the liberation of the South, reunification.
  • Organisation “On jogging for life: Green – Clean – Beautiful”; Truc Bach Lake has represented fashion programme “Towards excellence Capital 2016”
  • Socialization Programme for Culture and Art “street art festival Hanoi culinary past and present”
  • Organization of thematic photo exhibition at the Exhibition House 45 Trang Thi Hoa Lo and Monuments
  • Cinema organisations serving people from all walks of Human Capital

Source: TTXVN

Ho Chi Minh City


Reo Studio

  • It will set off fireworks in four venues to celebrate the 41st anniversary of the liberation of South Vietnam’s and national liberation (April 30) and the 130th International May Day (May 1).
  • According to VOV5, the shows are scheduled for 9-9:30pm on April 30 at the roof of Saigon river tunnel in district 2, Dam Sen cultural park in district 11, Cu Chi and Can Gio districts. As part of celebrations, a photo exhibition will open along Nguyen Hue, Dong Khoi streets and Labour Culture Palace in district 1 from April 25.
  • On the event, the civil Labor Federation will dispatch the Workers’ Month to honour exceptional specialists and present endowments to those living in need.

    Flickr : Huy Yo

  • Music performances, the 28th HCM City TV Cup bicycle race and other sports tournaments are also scheduled for April 30.
  • On April 29 morning, officials of the municipal administration and the municipal Vietnam Fatherland Front committee are due to pay tribute to fallen martyrs in cemeteries. The race will depart from Hanoi on 10/4 and ends at noon HCMC on 30/04/2016. The tournament this year has followed the familiar route from north to south with the slogan “Non sông liền một dải” (“Landmark was a stretch”).

VNExpress – Đức Đồng



Reo Studio

  • From 29/4 to 5/5 days is the week launch cruise season with main activities centred in “Bien Dong” park
  • Demonstration sports at sea; coastal festival with competitions basket boat, carrying fishnets, underwater tug of Danang fishermen.
  • Along with racing kayak on My Khe Beach; dance sports programme; bikini flash mob demonstration for visitors to join right on the beach downtown; colouring contest on paper with the theme “Together protect langurs shanked and respond in a civilised urban culture”.

Source: Tuoi Tre Online

During this 2-day vacation, big cities will be very quiet and calm because many people will have gone back to the countrysides to appreciate the day with their darling family. Before occupants’ door,  there are Vietnam’s national banners gladly waving noticeable all around. On TV, related remembrance projects or music indicates performing successful melodies about the Vietnam War are shown.

Despite the effect of Agent Orange that still haunts the people living in this sacred land, Vietnam has moved forward to make remarkable achievements while still proudly honouring their long and brave history.


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