In a farewell ceremony yesterday, the University of New England congratulated 38 students from 16 overseas countries who will soon be completing their studies at UNE, and thanked them for their gifts of cultural diversity and international insight.
“We value you for what you bring to us,” said the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber, before presenting them with “Certificates of Participation” recognising their contribution to the life of the University. Dr Vernon Crew, UNE’s Director of English Language and International Services, said the ceremony expressed “the value we attach to you for widening our perspectives”.
UNE currently has more than 900 international students, with almost 200 of those (from 24 countries) due to complete their studies this semester. Yesterday’s farewell was for those who will be unable to attend the University’s next formal graduation ceremony in October.
In his address to the students, Professor Barber said that the farewell ceremony was “indicative of what has made UNE distinctive for so long now” – the fact that “we’re interested in each one of you”.
“What a moment in our lives!” said Ifa Nahrifa Hanafi, responding on behalf of the students. Ms Hanafi, who comes from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, recalled her experience of arriving at UNE fearful that she wouldn’t understand lectures, and eventually realising that she was “surrounded by people willing to help”.
Ms Hanafi is nearing the end of her studies for a Master’s degree, during which she has been working with UNE Senior Lecturer Dr Ian Godwin on a project in sheep nutrition. She thanked the whole UNE community – including particularly her lecturers in the School of Environmental and Rural Science, and the staff of UNE International and the Dixson Library – for her UNE experience, and said that she would choose to return to UNE if ever she had an opportunity to pursue doctoral studies.
Obokeng Raikane from Botswana, who has lived in Armidale while studying at UNE for a Bachelor of Business degree majoring in agribusiness, has already begun online studies towards a UNE Master’s degree.
Mr Raikane, who was one of the students farewelled at yesterday’s ceremony, is a specialist in agribusiness with the public service in Botswana. He said that, for overseas students of agribusiness, “it’s best to be at UNE”. Referring to UNE’s developing relationship with Botswana in agricultural research, he said he hoped that many more people from Botswana would be able to study agribusiness and related subjects at UNE.
THE PHOTOGRAPH of Ifa Nahrifa Hanafi displayed here was taken during her talk at yesterday’s ceremony. Clicking on this image reveals a photograph of Ms Hanafi receiving her “Certificate of Participation” from the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber.