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Studying in Perth during a pandemic

William_Insider_Guides-2Institute: University of Western Australia
URL: www.uwa.edu.au
Location: Perth, Western Australia

William has been studying and working in Perth where he shares his experience of COVID-19 as an international student.

After being awarded the LPDP Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education scholarship, William Ndut moved from his home in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Perth in 2018 to study at the University of Western Australia (UWA).

"Currently, I'm living in Perth with my little family," he says. "Since August 2019, I have been working as an academic tutor at UWA's Business School."

 

Initially, this role required me to have face-to-face meetings with my students once a week, but in response to this global phenomenon, the mode of delivery of the tutorial session has been changed to online.

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UWA and its staff were quick to adapt to the changes that COVID-19 brought, but as a teacher, William still had concerns.

"At first, I was a little bit scared and worried about not being able to catch the attention [of the students], or that they wouldn't be engaged enough with this online mode of delivery," he says.

In addition, William felt for students working part-time who may have recently been left without work, or international students facing the travel ban and being told to return home. He feared that his students would withdraw from their course.

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"But I was totally wrong. My students have demonstrated to me that the main pillar, the main essence of education is beyond walls, it's beyond this brick-and-mortar building." 

The true spirit of education relies on their strong will, motivation and dedication to study and to grow together, even in this difficult time.

To his class, William shares this message: "For my students… I want you to know, I'm so proud of you."

Prior to the implementation of stricter isolation rules, UWA hosted a workshop for tutors and lecturers on how to engage students in an online learning environment. However, William felt that the success in online learning was not something that could necessarily be taught. Instead, it comes down to the mutual dedication of staff and students to make the situation work for them.

"In this situation, to be honest, I think that people are the key," he says.

Working from home has also had some unexpected benefits for William, including being with his wife and nine-month-old son.

"I have more time with my family, to set my life priorities, especially on things that I'm going to do after this global pandemic ends," he says. 

I have more time to get ideas for my next book and to enjoy the sunlight and the fresh air."

William encourages fellow international students to stay resilient throughout the physical separation period, by offering mental support and camaraderie.

"For my fellow international students in Perth, in coping with this difficult time, there are two things that we can do. First of all: physically. Please be mindful of yourself and others. Please keep practising social distancing, whenever and wherever you are.

"Second of all... I have to keep saying this over and over again, so that all of us realise and understand that we are all in this together… If we could keep being kind, mindful and respectful to each other during this difficult time, once this global pandemic ends, we are going to bounce back and come back stronger.

Tough times never last, but tough people do.

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