Student wins community engagement award

For the second year running an international student from the University of South Australia has won the 'Excellence in Community Engagement' prize at the South Australian International Student of the Year awards.

Malaysian born student Chee Wan Tan (Jerad) jointly won the prestigious award for his contribution to community work both locally and internationally. Jerad was surprised to receive the honour.

"I didn't acknowledge my name being called until the MC mentioned Malaysia. In Adelaide I've been calling myself Jerad Tan rather than my full name. I felt overwhelming and couldn't believe it."

The community engagement award is presented to an international student for their involvement in volunteer work or community engagement in South Australia. Since arriving in Adelaide Jerad has kept busy in his efforts to engage with the local community. It has been an important ambition and one he's been determined to achieve as an international student.

"My goals in Australia include breaking cultural barriers, enhancing sustainable social engagement and promoting volunteering. My principle is to inspire, encourage and empower people to serve together for a better future."

As part of this commitment Jerad regularly volunteers at events such as Clean-up Australia and contributes to charities including World Vision Australia and working at a local thrift shop.

Jerad also valued the opportunity to participate and initiate community engagement during his Bachelor of Management (Marketing) degree at the University of South Australia. During this time he was also an ambassador for the Global Experience (GE) program - a university-wide extra-curricular program designed to enhance students' intercultural competence and global employability.

As part of GE Jerad travelled to Tanzania and Kenya to volunteer in teaching basic English and also helped raise $6,000 for WellWishers, an organisation building hand dug wells in Ethiopia. Jerad attributes the GE program to helping him develop the capacity for personal and professional growth.

"When I enrolled into GE the course matured me and extended my exposure to global understanding. The learning environment changed m y perspective toward community engagement."

As a student Jerad was also an active participant in the 'Your Culture, My Culture' program which aims to increase cultural perspectives among students. Jerad acknowledges the importance of the program,

"Not only will international students feel less isolated from their international peers, but they will also make Australian friends, and in turn those Australian students will develop their international perspectives."

While Jerad believes the award will build his confidence, he is also determined to remain humble. He hopes to continue on this path of community engagement by either studying a Masters in Social Work next year or working for a not for profit organisation back in Malaysia.

"It's not a destination but a learning journey full of surprises."