This week the 2022 Mayor’s Student Ambassadors met in the Gold Coast Student Hub one last time with the official close of this year’s program. There were lots of smiles, laughs and a few tears as the Ambassadors and the Study Gold Coast team reflected on the accomplishments of the group and the individual achievements of this exceptional cohort of students.
Anyone who has participated in this program knows all too well the extraordinary bonds that are forged through the shared experience and the responsibilities that are part of being a Mayor’s Student Ambassador. This year presented its own particular challenges, with several students arriving just after our international borders reopened before taking the plunge into the unknown as an Ambassador and often finding themselves out of their comfort zone.
One of the most enlightening and rewarding experiences through the Mayor’s Student Ambassador Program is with OzHarvest. Students begin the day with an overview of the charity and its origins, and that includes some cold hard facts about food waste and its cost to the community.
The first real eye opener is the amount of food wasted in this country. One in every five grocery bags purchased in Australia ultimately ends up in the bin. That equates to $3,800 worth of groceries wasted per household every year, but not all waste can be solely attributed to consumers. For example, 40% of all bananas grown in Australia are thrown away. Some are discarded at the farm due to cosmetic imperfections and the demands from supermarkets for superior fruit, while others that make it to households are left to become overripe and are then tossed away.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect about food waste is the realisation that it is a major contributor to climate change. It’s estimated that waste is responsible for eight percent of global emissions.
Developing an understanding of local culture, particularly indigenous culture, is one of the primary interests for international students when they come to study here, so it’s no surprise that the opportunity to visit the Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre was a keenly anticipated experience for our new cohort of Mayor’s Student Ambassadors.
The 2022 Ambassadors are like a microcosm of the wider Gold Coast student community, reflecting a broad base of cultural backgrounds, including German, Filipino, Czech, Chinese, French, Colombian, Greek, Swedish, South African, Brazilian, Korean, Mauritian, and of course Australian. For many of these students this is their first encounter with indigenous Australian culture, so there were many questions for their aboriginal hosts.
For Perth filmmaker Mia Erskine, the long journey to Bond University on the Gold Coast began with a single step. That step was entering the Bond University Film & Television Awards (BUFTA), ending with the talented teen taking out top prize at last year’s awards, receiving a full scholarship to study a Bachelor of Film and Television at Bond.
This year’s up-and-coming high school filmmakers have the opportunity to follow in Ms Erskine’s footsteps, with entries for this year’s BUFTA awards now open.
Ms Erskine’s winning film, Funhouse! With Ditzy the Clown and Friends, was a comedy set behind the scenes of a children’s entertainment television show. It won both the comedy and screenwriting categories, as well as the main prize, at last year’s awards.
It’s National Student Volunteer Week, an event that recognises the significant skills, ideas, enthusiasm, creativity, and time that students contribute through volunteering. There are many reasons why students choose to volunteer – some do it for experience in a sector where they may want to pursue a career, others do it because they want to connect with a wider group of people, and others do it simply because they love it! Regardless of the reasons why students choose to do it, all volunteers agree that it is an immensely rewarding experience.
Volunteering is proving to be increasingly popular among international students, which on the surface may seem unusual, given that they didn’t grow up in Australia and generally have no vested interests here apart from gaining an education. Yet many are so grateful for the opportunity to study here and are keen to volunteer because they want to give back to their adopted communities. It’s also a great way to meet a wider cross section of people outside of their academic institutions and student groups.
When local Gold Coast radio personality, Christo was challenged by country music star Casey Barnes to produce a country song in just three minutes he turned to TAFE Queensland for help. The 102.9 Hot Tomato breakfast show host collaborated with music and sound production students from TAFE Queensland’s Coomera campus to record the vocals, play instruments and input creative direction to produce a high quality track in one of the campus recording studios.
Within weeks of it being officially released, the song titled ‘I Don’t Care (I Want My Dog Back)’ hit #3 on the Australian iTunes Country Music Chart behind global superstars Keith Urban and Dolly Parton.
The Mayor’s Student Ambassador Program offers unique and exclusive opportunities to enhance the experience for international and domestic students. Last weekend the Ambassadors spent the day at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, getting up close and personal with native Australian fauna while developing a deeper connection to the local ecology.
The Sanctuary’s primary role is to educate people about Australian Wildlife, building an empathetic understanding of the need to preserve the natural environment and native habitats. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary works closely with our universities and the City of Gold Coast to undertake wildlife and conservation research, with 16 projects currently being conducted.
High up in the hills above the Currumbin Valley sits some of the most beautiful and lush countryside of the Gold Coast hinterland. As you climb up Tomewin Mountain Road towards Freeman’s Organic Farm it feels as though you’re making your way to heaven and with the majestic views the property commands all the way back to the ocean, you could be forgiven for expecting to find the Pearly Gates perched there. Instead you’re greeted by the humble presence of a roadside fruit stand and the welcoming charm of the farm’s proprietor David Freeman.
David’s family has farmed this land for five generations, back to when it was established as Australia’s first banana plantation over one hundred years ago, a time when bananas were considered an exotic fruit consumed by the wealthy. Today Freeman’s Organic Farm has a diverse selection of produce – avocados, coffee, kale, peaches, plums, custard apples, sweet potatoes, broccoli, strawberries, mangoes and much, much more.
Lilly Luhrmann is a young woman of conviction. She is deeply concerned by the lack of support international students have received during COVID-19 from the Australian Government and as such has partnered with the State Government to launch the Study Queensland Luhrmann Appeal.
Lilly is the daughter of film director Baz Luhrmann and designer Catherine Martin, creators of hit films Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby, and has been based on the Gold Coast since late last year when her parents began working on their latest project, a biopic on the life of Elvis Presley which stars Tom Hanks.