ISD to Launch ‘Beyond Borders’ Program
By Tom Kersten
The University’s International Students Department (ISD) is set to launch a new program called ‘Beyond Borders’ with the aim of connecting international students studying remotely with domestic students.
With the recent halving of international arrivals, and the international student quarantine program in a stalemate, plans to have international students study in-person for semester two have drastically dampened.
Unlike other programs, Beyond Borders is open to all ANU students. Through a survey asking students their interests, the ISD will attempt to match like-minded students together. The pairs will then be introduced through a series of Zoom sessions. Several activities such as gift and language exchanges are planned between the pairs.
An ANU Spokesperson said “It’s great to see the International Students Department undertake this initiative”.
They note that “International students have been repeatedly calling on students back on campus to reach out and connect with them, so the University welcomes this program.”
ISD Social Representative Hebe Ren, who studies remotely from China, has noticed the tangible differences when it comes to studying remotely instead of in-person study.
“I experience the distance from real campus life constantly…I have made a lot of friends through Zoom but the majority of them are international students. Other international students are experiencing the same” she said.
To compensate for the loss of contact international students have with domestic students, the department came up with the idea of giving international students the chance to speak and connect directly with students on campus. After several different ideas, the Beyond Borders program stood out.
Hebe, one of the organisers of the program, stated “our biggest concern is the lack of participation from on-campus students”. She fears a scenario where the number of international students enrolling will be much higher than domestic students, adding “further challenges” to the sustainability of the program.
Making the ANU community feel more connected is a major aim of this project, however it is up to the students on campus to be willing and open, Hebe concludes.
There will also be activities planned for everyone involved in the program, in an attempt to create a feeling of togetherness.
When asked why the University itself did not initiate such a program, an ANU spokesperson told Observer “The University has made multiple attempts to connect these students with their fellow students back on campus.”
The spokesperson said “ANU has been providing a comprehensive range of ongoing social, pastoral and academic support to all our international students studying remotely”.
The Beyond Borders program is expected to launch during Bush Week, beginning 26 July.
Graphics by Joseph Oh
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