International beyond borders - international students in our community (Issue 5, 2013)

Joanna-ShawLa Trobe University International Student Services Coordinator Joanna Shaw has given a presentation about connecting international students and the local community at the seventh series of La Trobe’s Big FAT Ideas.

Joanna Shaw coordinates La Trobe International’s volunteering program and has seen the benefits it has on international students first hand. During the presentation, Joanna discussed the innovative program that connects international students and the local community through volunteering.

The program has two broad, but interlinked objectives:

  • to build the resilience of international students by connecting them to local resources and organisations to foster self-help, cultural confidence, and greater awareness of facilities and information at their disposal
  • to build bridges and break down barriers between international students and locals, to address misconceptions about international students, and to foster greater understanding of the international student story and the value they bring to our community.

‘International students volunteering in the community changes lives – it changes their experience of Australia and it changes the local community’s perception of students,’ says Joanna Shaw.

‘Students willingly give up their weekends and free time, such is their eagerness to engage and experience Australian culture. I even had one student delay their flight home by one day so he could volunteer one more time at the Sunday Lunch Club before he left Australia for Afghanistan.’

Joanna has had a career spanning international relations and development, the not for profit sector, human rights, women’s rights, community engagement, state and local government and most recently the higher education sector. 

All student volunteering goes towards the La Trobe Award. The La Trobe Award offers recognition for hard work as a volunteer and official recognition on students’ academic transcripts.

For more information on opportunities for international students, visit the International Student Services’ webpage