Inside Globe Cafe’s International Students Program as published on www.newshit.com.au on April 16 2010
It can be pretty daunting living in a different country, studying at a university that’s unlike anything back in your hometown. GLOBE Café helps overseas students become acclimatised to Australia.
Kicking off the program in 2010 was a ‘welcome to Australia’ dinner. As some people were new to the program, volunteers from Monash Sport conducted some ‘getting to know you’ games with the students as a warm-up for the night. These activities were team-orientated, aimed at the students familiarising themselves with others via teamwork.
Next up was an Australian-style dinner. As you can probably already guess, sausages were on the menu for the night (they’re very Australian), as was pasta (not so Australian, yet there had to be a vegetarian option). While dessert was served up, Monash 991 Unplugged Music Club treated the attendees to some live music.
To end the night, students were taught bamboo dancing. The way it’s done is two long, thick bamboo sticks are laid about two metres apart across the floor while smaller bamboo sticks, in groups of two, are laid across the other longer sticks. Students would hold a pair of stick each tapping them together and apart while others students danced their way through the gaps on each outward tap.
Activities for the rest of the term include dinner in an Australian home, barefoot bowling, chocolate night and an Asian cooking class.
Activities are not exclusively held at the church. In association with Monash Sport, students are able to attend day trips, as well as the Friday sessions. Some of the activities available through Monash Sport are: surfing, Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island day tours.
Globe Cafe launched in late 2006 as a weekly (unofficial) support program for international students, where Monash students are most welcome. Events are held weekly, where sometimes more than 100 students attending. Each week volunteers serve a free meal and conduct activities so the students can learn about other cultures and build connections with the wider community and the Australian way of life.
Apart from a small grant from Monash for food, volunteers run GLOBE Café with help from the church and the local community. A number of corporate donors are involved with the association, including the AFL, Melbourne Racing Club and the Melbourne Opera. Student volunteers can also assist on a roster basis, receiving an award certificate and a free t-shirt for their efforts.
Monash University counselors generally use Globe Cafe as a suggestion point for new international students. Immense positive changes are seen of the participants throughout the program as they connect with other students over time.
Poovanen Ramasawmy is an IT student at Monash Clayton who came here from Mauritius about two years ago. He enjoys going to the events held by GLOBE Café because it means he’s not sitting in his room with nothing to do. From this program, he has formed many new friendships, learnt about the Australian culture and the Australian way of life. He encourages other students that with the help of the program and its leaders, his feeling of homesickness when he first came here has been alleviated.