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Victorian International Student of the Year on the value of volunteering and bayanihan

Filipino Justin See is the Victorian International Student of the Year - Regional category

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Kimberly Mitchiko
Kimberly Mitchiko is Study Melbourne Ambassador and recipient of the International Student of the Year (Vocational Education) at the Victorian International Education Awards 2020.

Rooting from our bayanihan culture, Filipinos are truly active in supporting the community and international student Justin See proved that.

In December last year, Justin was awarded by the Victorian Government as International Student of the Year Award – Regional category and International Student of the Year – Premier’s Award. You might be thinking, what did Justin do to bag all these prestigious awards and who is Justin?

Justin See | PHOTO: Noni Hyett
Justin See | PHOTO: Noni Hyett

Advocacies

Representing Bendigo as Intercultural Ambassador, Justin was involved in many initiatives promoting and bridging differences present in multicultural communities. As an ambassador, Justin participated in two major projects amplifying the voices of multicultural communities.

In his “You and I” video project during the beginning of the pandemic, his team aimed to create the video with a clear message of coming together in response to reports of racism and abuse received by some members of ethnic communities. In addition to this project, last March, Justin assisted in planning the Multicultural Games Day held at Bendigo Library, where he showcased some of the popular Filipino games including ‘Pinoy Henyo’.

During his term, Justin advocated in promoting the Filipino culture as a volunteer radio host for a community radio station (Phoenix FM) from 2018 to 2020. He described that serving his community is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences he had while making a difference in the lives of multicultural communities in Bendigo and gaining wonderful friendships.

Student life

A father and an international student that he is – juggling University life, extra-curricular activities, work, and time for family can be challenging. 

What is the secret according to Justin? 

“First is time management. I create a flexible schedule that allows time for many things: studying, extra-curricular and social activities, bonding with my own family, exercise, and getting a good night’s sleep. Then I select which of these activities I prioritise at a particular time. My mindset is that I should focus on one thing at a time without thinking about the other things I should do. Finally, I also find multi-tasking can be helpful at times! For instance, whenever I need to go to Melbourne for an event or a conference I am helping organise, I do my readings for school on the train.”

“During the pandemic, I really struggled with juggling my studies, social involvement, and different commitments. I found it really difficult to work from home as I found it difficult to focus and concentrate. I also do not have the luxury of having my own workspace (I do not have a chair and a working table at home). I was also stressed out with the thought of the pandemic and not being able to find a job after graduation. The combination of prayers, support from family and friends, and finding some time to exercise to release stress really helped! I also find the support provided by the university and the Victorian government to international students helpful.”

Justin See
Justin See
Justin See
Justin See

Advice to aspiring international student leaders

“Two things: First, do not hesitate to reach out, volunteer, and engage your wider community. You never know who you are going to meet! As for me, I have developed life-long friendships with some of the most amazing people I have met in the world through volunteering. So do not let your age or visa status hinder you from engaging with others. Second, may we look at our current situation, not as something limiting, but as an opportunity to grow and flourish. When you’re feeling down, always remember that Filipino spirit called bayanihan — we are always here for one another.”

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