Australia Awards scholars Kapil Swamy and Ratu Marika Lewanavanua, both mobilised to Australia in May 2022 to commence their Masters degrees at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).
We are proud to share their initial experiences in creating new friendships, sharing Fiji’s culture with Australians and other international students, and how important these friendships are in ensuring their scholarship success (and beyond)!
All Australia Awards scholars are required to attend an introductory academic program (IAP) prior to their main course. The IAP is not just an opportunity to ensure international students are well-prepared academically, it also connects students with others in similar positions, from around the globe.
The IAP forms the foundation for scholars’ university life. It exposes students to the social and community benefits of university. It provides an opportunity for cultural exchange and learning, introducing Australian history and culture, but also providing time for international students to also share their cultural backgrounds.
When asked to provide a cultural experience from Fiji, “Ratu Marika and I decided to do a cultural exchange in which will engage our peers and give them a true experience of Fiji,” Kapil said.
“We started off with a brief PowerPoint presentation about Fiji, its history, and highlights before moving onto demonstrating a traditional welcoming kava ceremony led by Ratu Marika. The ceremony was received with great warmth, and everyone loved the experience. It was a memorable afternoon.
The cultural exchange also enabled us to learn more from our peers from different nations. As an example, I learnt quite a bit about the history and culture of Pakistan, and my classmate sang a traditional folk song which was very well done.”
When asked what the value of friendship and connections is whilst away from home, Kapil said “these friendships and connections are extremely important for personal and professional growth and a sense of being ‘home’ while away from home.
We also feel well-supported and know that there are people we can make once-in-a-lifetime memories with and also lean on during difficult times.”
Kapil and Ratu Marika completed their IAP and have since started their main courses. Kapil said “I am now meeting people from my field of work, which is in turn helping me to grow professionally and diversify my network. These connections will be very useful for the future.”
Through their Australia Awards experience, Kapil and Ratu Marika continue to strengthen the Vuvale partnership!