UNE’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students and Social Inclusion), Eve Woodberry, speaking at the celebration, listed those students’ home countries as Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Italy, Mozambique, Thailand, Japan, India, Fiji, Singapore, Malaysia and Libya.
After congratulating them on their success, Ms Woodberry told the students that they had made a valuable contribution to the multicultural fabric of the UNE campus, and to the University and Armidale communities’ appreciation of their diverse cultures.
“We’re happy you’ve been successful, but sad to see you leave,” she said.
Colonel Apirdet Manvichachai of the Royal Thai Army, who has completed a Master of Arts degree program in International Studies, responded on behalf of his fellow students. He outlined his UNE experience – from his friendly welcome on arrival at Armidale Airport, through initial difficulties with the ‘Aussie accent’ and information technologies, to the satisfaction of learning and making friends in the peaceful environment of Armidale.
In thanking the University he said: “Don’t forget you have friends around the world. Please come and visit us.”
Colonel Manvichachai’s study at UNE was sponsored through the Defence Cooperation Scholarship Program. “Many of my friends from the Royal Thai Army have come here, and they recommended UNE in Armidale as a good place to study in peace and quiet,” he said.
Thi Khanh Van Ta, a market analyst with the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, has just completed a Diploma program in economics at UNE with support from an Australian Development Scholarship administered through AusAID. She plans to return to UNE next year to enter a Master’s program. In the meantime, she said, she hopes to see more of Australia, and to work in a job that will enable her “to interact with local people”.
Last Friday’s farewell celebration for international students was the seventh – and largest – that the University has staged over the past four years.
There are currently 758 international students at UNE – 661 in degree programs and 97 in English language programs. They come from 54 countries.
THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here expands to show Colonel Apirdet Manvichachai delivering his address.