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Campus News : March 2011
6 Campus News March 2011 University of Wollongong www.uow.edu.au Festival showcase of community support WOLLONGONG WELCOME The lights on stage were theatrically dimmed as hundreds of international newcomers filed into the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre for the Welcome to Wollongong (W2W) civic reception on 25 February. Held as part of the W2W Festival, the civic reception was a colourful welcome and formally acknowledged that the students were now a part of the local community. W2W was established in 2008 to welcome international students to the city and provide them with information about the city and its services. It also seeks to make the Wollongong community more aware of the significant international students population in its midst (around 6000 in 2011) and their contribution to the city's cultural life and economy. With support from Wollongong City Council, UOW, TAFE and Wollongong University College, it has become an integral part of Orientation Week celebrations. UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International) Professor Joe Chicharo, who attended W2W, was just a teenager when he arrived in Australia from Portugal in 1969. "I understand how some of the students feel. I think people do find that there is a period of significant adjustment," Professor Chicharo said. "I made friends fairly easily because I was active in sports and that's a natural way of meeting people. When you land on our shores it can be an unsettling experience. There is a culture shock so I think that getting students to network with other students helps to overcome the initial shock," Professor Chicharo said. The international students heard from a number of guest speakers and watched performances including the Wadi Wadi Indigenous dance group. Newly-arrived nursing student Denis Egidis was one of the many international students transfixed by the Indigenous dance performance. The former Israeli Army ambulance driver said: "I wanted more for my life and I chose to do it in another country." He said his previous job as an ambulance driver had convinced him that he should seek a profession that allows him to help others. Once qualified Denis hopes to work in Australia as a nurse. "I also want to travel overseas and offer medical assistance whenever there are big disasters, but I do love Australia," he said. The W2W civic reception was followed by an afternoon of free food and festivities including live music, street theatre and cultural displays. Local business and shop stalls encircled the Civic Plaza and forecourt area where students were able to connect with important community groups and sample Australian specialties such as meat pies and vegemite. MC Above: The Wadi Wadi Indigenous dance group delighted the audience with a spectacular performance at the W2W Festival at Illawarra Performing Arts Centre. Below: Israeli student Denis Egidis at the W2W Festival. Denis has enrolled at UOW to study Nursing. Bottom: Indonesian dancers perform the Dance of A Thousand Hands at the W2W Festival. The festival, now in its fourth year, welcomes international students to Wollongong.