How my first day at orientation leads me towards leadership at UniSA!
“Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve the goal, or any goal” – Vince Lombardi.
Hi, everyone! I am Muhammad Reefath, an international undergraduate student at the University of South of Australia. I am from Bangladesh, a small country in South Asia. After completing my high school in 2013, I came to Adelaide Australia in 2014 on a higher education student visa to study at the University of South Australia.
My first day at the University was an amazing experience of my life. All the international students were welcomed very warmly by friendly staffs, student engagement officers and student mentors. It helped me so much to settle down into the new environment.
Honestly, I felt like I am a very special person and why shouldn’t I? What was not there in the orientation day! All you can imagine; multicultural foods, drinks, music, games, prizes and hundreds of gifts and it’s all free.
And then the best part, there were student mentors who showed us around the campus, facilities and library, how to borrow books, how to get student ID cards, how to use the printers. Where to go if we need any help, campus security, emergency contacts, where and how to find cheap accommodation and transportation information, etc. It was just a transition from one home to another home for me. I started my new life. Everything was going very well, and study-life balance was excellent too.
A few weeks later, I received an email from the Student Engagement Officer stating, ‘If I need any help with my studies, assignments, accommodation and transportation, campus events, student engagement activities, volunteering opportunities and living in Adelaide, I should contact the officer at any time.’ I realised that this is an excellent opportunity to introduce myself and get involved in the social and academic culture of the university.
So I started volunteering casually with the university student association and student clubs. I volunteered for a year and kept an online record of all my extracurricular activities. At the end of the year, I forwarded my records to the Student Engagement Officer and applied for student leadership opportunities.
At the beginning of my second year, I received an invitation email regarding a student leadership position from the UniSA Business School. Yes! That’s all I needed to step out from the crowd. I realised that volunteering is a great way to start your career and UniSA values student’s contributions.
It all started with the Orientation Week as a Business Mentor. A new challenge and a new responsibility! A year ago I was welcomed by the student mentors; now it’s my turn to welcome the new students and make them feel home. The Student Engagement Unit arranged a training session for the new Business Mentors, and it was one of the best self-development class I ever attended. I learned about leadership and entrepreneurship, effective communications, and most importantly ‘students like to engage with students more.’
I am so excited about welcoming the new students. The first day, early in the morning I went to City West Campus (Business School) and participated at the team briefing. There were about 30 Business Mentors like me. Then we had free snacks in the campus cafeteria (all you can eat!), and the student engagement officers allocated us in pairs to work together, and each team is responsible for managing about 20-30 students.
There we go, the first leadership adventure begins. Me and team partner welcomed the students, showed them around the campus, described the academic and social culture of the University, took photos, introduced the main buildings and so on. Then the lunch hour begins! When I said we have free lunch and drinks for everyone, they got so excited. Trust me you have never seen happy faces like those before! Then I took them to our student lounge and we had lunch and social gathering. The music in the background creates a friendly environment.
Enough information, it’s time to party! A welcome party! The music just got louder; students started engaging themselves with the indoor games, photo booths, quizzes and there was a small prize for everyone. And of course, there was free ice-cream!
I also worked with the student association to hand out flyers, free diary, stickers and a planner. So you got all you need to kick start your university life. Later in the afternoon we all had a short welcome lecture by one of our senior professor. All the business mentors and I were responsible for bringing all the new students into the lecture theatre. That was hard! Who’s going to leave the party and attend the conference? But the lectures were very inspirational too.
At the end of the day, all the business mentors and I shared their university email address to all the new students and advised them if they need any kinds of help, they should contact us anytime. I was also collecting random feedback from the new students. In short, the students were happy about the orientation program and to some, it was a memorable experience that they will never forget.
As a UniSA Business Mentor, I am also assisting international students in developing leadership, communication and teamwork skills. Helping new students with the transition to the social and academic culture of the university and encouraging interaction between students, in particular, international and domestic students in the student experience programs, such as UniSA Your Culture My Culture, UniSA Community Gardens and UniSA SPICED (Multicultural Cooking Demonstrations).