International Student Perspectives of Life in Armidale
Friday the 12th of July saw UNE International (supported by the New England Regional Art Museum) host the inaugural UNE International Student Photography Exhibition. The exhibition sought to address a recognised need for additional activities for international students in the colder months, and to provide a chance for the wider community to acknowledge the valuable contributions which international students make to the Armidale region. Many international students in Armidale give willingly and generously of their time; volunteering in the community, participating in local events and working around town. Yet the wider community often does not have the opportunity to experience their impressions of their time in Australia.
First Place - Julia Gorzitzke
The chance to articulate these perspectives is also often limited by a student’s English language level; therefore, the exhibition also provided a chance for students to communicate with their audience through a purely visual form, without the issues and anxieties surrounding their English language level. Students were given the broad theme of “Life in Armidale” and had to address this theme in all entries. Overall, the exhibition drew participants from 11 countries; Saudi Arabia, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Germany, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Bhutan and Italy. News of the event spread quickly around the university and throughout the Armidale, with articles in both the Armidale Express and the Armidale Independent. Twitter and Facebook were also abuzz with the event, with community members, including local MP Adam Marshall, re-tweeting news about the exhibition.
Directors Choice - Rob Yen
The response for this exhibition from the UNE international student population was overwhelming with a broad range of interpretations and entries – photos addressed concepts such as exam stress, the local environment, cross-cultural knowledge exchange and experiences in homestay programs. Due to the strength of these entries, UNE and NERAM presented two award categories. UNE prizes were awarded by a panel of judges and focused on the successful delivery of the exhibition theme. The UNE judging panel included local photographer David Elkins, Vincent Blokker - PhD candidate and Senior Resident Fellow at Drummond and Smith College, and John Davidson – a community volunteer who generously shares his time and Australian culture and experiences with international students and their families. NERAM awards (selected by NERAM Acting Director Christine Durham and gallery staff), highlighted the work of students who had demonstrated strong artistic merit while also addressing the “Life in Armidale” theme.
Highly Commended - Phu Thi Tran
Art Museum Award (Highly Commended) - Donatella D’Anniballe
Due to the overall success of this exhibition, “Life in Armidale” will now join the University of New England’s 2013 promotion at Ag-Quip, where a People’s Choice Award will be announced for the most popular photo as voted by expo visitors. UNE International hopes that the International Student Photography Exhibition will become a yearly event on the UNE social calendar and garner further support from students, the university and the Armidale community.
- Kylie McCarthy