Public school success at International Student Awards

It’s been a difficult time for international students but NSW public schools and their pupils have been recognised for making a difference.

Image: High achiever: Epping Boys High School student Qiufei (Frank) Lai.

A passionate Chinese visual arts student and a school going above and beyond to support its foreign contingent were among the winners at the 2021 NSW International Student Awards.

Public education continued to shine during a year in which COVID-19 restrictions left many international students isolated from their families and relying on their schools and community for extra support.

The sector took out half the awards broadcast at a virtual ceremony held from the Museum of Contemporary Art last Friday.

The annual event recognises the contribution of international students, education providers, businesses and community organisations from across the state.

Epping Boys High School student Qiufei (Frank) Lai took out the International Student of the Year – Schools after another year of outstanding academic results, community leadership and pursuit of the arts.

The Shanghai native has been at the school since 2018, consistently achieving in and out of the classroom during that time.

He founded the school’s first Artist Club, joined the Year 12 prefect body this year and has been an advocate for international students amongst the wider school community.

An outstanding public speaker, Frank has also played a key role in coordinating charity fundraisers such as Movember and the World’s Greatest Shave at his school.

Image: High-level support: Cabramatta High School's International Student Coordinator Lyn Nguyen, principal Lachlan Erskine and Debra Goodfellow, International Student Administrator.

Dedicated staff

Cabramatta High School meanwhile took out the International Student Community Engagement Award – Education Providers.

The south-western Sydney school has an international student program which has offered high-level support to more than 80 students during COVID-19.

It has dedicated staff members to offer support during, and after school hours, with access to a range of external counselling and wellbeing services.

The school provided packs of groceries and winter items to support students struggling financially because of COVID-19 and acted swiftly on behalf of a student who found herself homeless earlier in the year.

"Our school community is honoured to receive the International Student Community Engagement Award - Education Providers," principal Lachlan Erskine said.

"Congratulations to the dedicated staff who provide an outstanding academic education, and support the social and emotional wellbeing of international students.

"International students are highly valued members of the school, and are actively involved in school programs, student leadership and community projects."

TAFE NSW student Phaeng Xaphokhame also took out International Student of the Year – Vocational Education and Training.

Phaeng is an avid permaculture student at the National Environment Centre at TAFE NSW in Albury. He plans to use his education to improve the lives of thousands in his home country of Laos.

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