Ibrahim Ahmed Qasem Muhsen Al Jahoushi with a bearded dragon
English lessons, visits to wildlife parks and boomerang lessons were just some of the many experiences 30 Emirati students have taken away from an Australian cultural exchange program in Bendigo, Victoria.
John Butler, State Government of Victoria Commissioner to the Middle East and North Africa, said the 30 Emirati students have all successfully graduated from the special cultural program in Bendigo, a regional city located just under two hours north of Melbourne.
The students went to Bendigo last month under the Summer Abroad Program which was an educational and cultural partnership between the Abu Dhabi Education Council and Bendigo TAFE.
“This is the second year that Bendigo has won the right to host students from the UAE, with support from the Victorian Government Business office in Dubai, and we have been delighted to see the continued success of this program,” said Mr. Butler.
“The four week visit has clearly been an enlightening, two way cultural experience that has enabled both the Emirati students and their Australian hosts to learn about each other’s way of life.
“And it has presented us with an ongoing opportunity to encourage bilateral relationships, friendship and understanding between the two countries.”
The Emirati students spent four weeks living with local families to gain an appreciation of the Australian lifestyle.
During their stay, the students studied English, computer and IT skills, design and cooking at Bendigo TAFE and visited universities, galleries, wildlife parks, outdoor camps, learned to throw a boomerang and spent time in the Grampians, a National Park that is one of Victoria's most popular holiday destinations.
They also went down the Murray River on an historic paddle steamer, travelled to Melbourne to see Australian Rules Football in action at Etihad Stadium and participated in their own football game with local players from the Epsom Senior Soccer Club.
Congratulating the students on completing the program with character and enthusiasm, Mr. Butler said that international students were highly valued members of the Victorian community.
“We have more than 130,000 international student enrolments in Victoria further enriching our multicultural population which hails from more than 130 nations,” he said.
“We would be delighted to see the alumni of this program return to Victoria in the future as higher level students at one of our excellent tertiary institutions.”