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Paying it forward: supporting students during COVID-19

Course: Social studies
Institute: Queensland University of Technology, University of Queensland,
Location: Queensland

My name is Prince, and I am an international student originally from Hong Kong. I have been living in Queensland for over six years, during which time I have completed my four-year bachelor program at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and my Master of Social Work Studies at the University of Queensland. I am now working full-time as a case manager at Multicultural Australia in Toowoomba, Queensland.


I understand that current students and ex-students are experiencing an extremely tough time during the COVID-19 crisis.
This includes the change of existing circumstances – like working, studying and socialising – required when isolating, in addition to missing loved ones overseas.

But in this crisis, I am able to see the resilience and adaptation of the international education sector and the community, and how we are working together to overcome this crisis.

The international education sector has also been evolving to adapt to new changes (such as moving things online), and the community is able to show love and care towards each other in this critical moment. Everyone is spreading positive messages. It is important to know that we are #InThisTogether and we are here to support each other. It is an act of love.



Finding support during COVID-19

I have joined multiple online groups specifically for supporting international students during this hard time. These groups have information regarding where international students can seek help. People are also sharing and donating goods to other people in need. As an ex-Queensland Student Advisory Panel member of Study Queensland, I have been working with different stakeholders, including the state government, local government and institutions, to support the wider Queensland student community and communicate their needs to the relevant stakeholders.

Adapting to changes in the workplace

My organisation, Multicultural Australia , has been listed as an essential service, so we are still open with business as usual. The majority of staff are working from home [and] I have been assigned to work from home four days a week. I make sure that I wake up as usual and have a good set-up to work from home. I have everything placed in a ‘work’ corner so I don't get distracted and I can stay focused throughout the day. I also make sure to have regular breaks throughout my day and stick to my daily routine just like I normally do at work.

Overcoming challenges

Staying focused at work and not being able to have face-to-face communication with my friends and clients in the community is a new challenge. I have learned different ways to continue to communicate over the phone to clients and with my friends via technology. [I am] spending more time on social media, including Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Tiktok – although I’m not sure if that is a good thing or not! It is still very different when compared to face-to-face contact and I am looking forward to catching up with all of them once this is over.


How can international students remain resilient?

It is important … to stay connected to the people who love you and care about you. Talk to them about your difficulties and seek help from them if you are in need. It is also important for us to stay positive and know that support is always available during this hard time. I find this link useful.

We are the younger generation and we should be proud that we are the generation who are good at utilising technology to connect to each other. Look after your physical and mental health and share positive vibes.

*This article has been edited for clarity

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