Premier Scholars amongst the "Aussie" locals
by Maria Strumendo
"Australia is heaven on earth, and brings out the best in people," Filippo Oncin said, Master student in Marketing and Organizational Psychology at UCSC, Milan campus.
AUSTRALIA – Campus fundraising initiative, and interaction with the local community – a rewarding exchange beyond classroom learning.
| Paolo, Paola, Filippo - UCSC Premier Scholars
In February 2012 three Premier Scholars from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (UCSC), set out on their journey for the land down under – seeking to carry out a semester of intensive studies whilst experiencing the "Aussie" culture. They successfully achieved both, and much more.
The students were awarded a scholarship to study at The University of Western Australia (UWA), one of Australia's top universities under Università Cattolica's Premier Scholars Program (PSP). The Program is supported by Istituto Giuseppe Toniolo di Studi Superiori (founder and promoter of UCSC).
"I applied for PSP because I had always dreamed about an exchange experience. I believe that travelling, meeting new people, and sharing ideas is the most formative experience for a student in such a globalized world," Paola Cavanna said, who is studying Law at UCSC, Piacenza campus.
As their semester at UWA has come to an end – Paolo, Filippo, and Paola say they could write a book about their experiences, but hosting an informal fundraising dinner at St. George's College (the senior residential College within UWA), to support the earthquake victims that were heavily affected in the Emilia-Romagna Region in Northern Italy was an enriching achievement – in more ways than one.
The administration of St. George's College, members of the Italian community in Perth, as well as UWA domestic students, supported the Italian students – and together they helped make the event "a really big success."
"We were very impressed by the generosity and kindness that the Australian students and community showed towards our country," Paolo Razzini said, who is doing a Master degree, International Relations and European Integration at UCSC, Milan campus.
| Paolo, Paola, Filippo at UWA
The idea of the fundraising dinner came up in conversation amongst the three scholars, following one of the many seismic waves. The three scholars were emotionally moved by the disaster and wanted to help and support victims affected.
"The ocean is made up of many small drops, so with our fundraising event, we thought that even from Australia we could contribute and make a difference," Paolo said.
The fundraising dinner shows that International Students can get involved on campus, especially via extracurricular activities, and models the impact on both their home and host institutions. Furthermore, the initiative illustrates the positive effect of campus internationalization as well as the strong collaboration between students, institutions and communities for a gratifying outcome.
"This experience profoundly impacted upon my perspective on the environment and on society...I experienced how the kindness and generosity of society's members directly impacts the functioning of that society, and extensively, its position in the international community," Paolo said.
More than 80 people attended the dinner. The students cooked typical Italian dishes and the funds raised from each plate were donated to the victims of the earthquake on behalf of The University of Western Australia.
"We shared our idea with the administration of St. George's College whom showed immediate enthusiasm. The administration were extremely polite, helpful and so kindly lent us the kitchen of the cafeteria for an entire day so that we could prepare everything," Paolo said.
Some of the Italian community members, as well as taking part in the event, prepared a giant tiramisu that was also sold during the dinner.
"It's impossible to explain the experience you have as an International Student. There are a lot of lessons I will bring back to Italy: the special privilege to be surrounded by people with different backgrounds, the overwhelming nature, and the Australian kindness," Paola said.
Premier Scholars Program (PSP)
In total, twelve dazzling students were selected to study across five prestigious universities in the USA and Australia during the A.Y. 2011/2012:
■ University of California Davis
■ University of California Los Angeles
■ University of Chicago
■ University of Queensland
■ University of Western Australia
In A.Y. 2012/2013 a further three universities have been added as destinations:
■ Boston University
■ Columbia University
■ University of Missouri School of Journalism
For more information on UCSC Premier Scholars Program, click here.