(6pm, Tuesday 12 March 2013, Centennial Hall)
Thank you, Alex [Voninski, UNSW MC]. Good evening, everyone. A very warm welcome to Town Hall.
I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders.
I'm also pleased to welcome:
- Jo Byng, Associate Director, International of the University of Western Sydney
- Professor Anne Cummins, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students, Teaching and Learning) of the Australian Catholic University
- Professor Marea Nicholson, Associate Vice-Chancellor (Sydney) of the Australian Catholic University
- Heather Roberts, Director International Relations of TAFE
- Alison Taylor, Associate Director, Business Strategy and Services of TAFE
- Professor Wai Fong Chua , Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Students) of the University of NSW
- Alex Voninski, Director UNSW International, University of NSW
- Christopher McKenna, Director, International Affairs-UNSW International, University of NSW and
- Professor William Purcell, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, International and Development
I also want to offer a warm welcome to your student Ambassadors who are:
- Joanne Huang from China, who is completing her Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Western Sydney;
- Yun Liu from China, who is studying a Bachelor of International Studies and Global Studies at the University of Sydney
- Silvia Solgari from Italy, who is working towards her Bachelor of Arts and Education at the University of NSW
- Olivia Zhang from China, who is completing her Masters of Business Accounting at the University of Technology, Sydney
- Bhavini Dattani from Tanzania, who is studying a Bachelor of Human Resource Management at the Australian Catholic University, and
- Nisarg Shah from India, who is completing his Advanced Diploma of Accounting at TAFE Sydney.
This is the 9th year that the City of Sydney has hosted a welcome to our international students. And while it was initiated by UTS, the University of Sydney and the University of NSW, its reach this year has been extended to cover six of the major tertiary institutions in Sydney.
Together, they host over 50,000 international students.
We welcome you especially for the contribution you can make to Sydney's diversity, to the richness of its cultural life, and to its youthfulness and energy.
In only a little more than two centuries, Sydney has become one of the most multicultural cities on earth, home to people of 200 different national origins. Over one quarter of our population is born overseas, and close to one-third of Sydneysiders speak a second language at home.
Over 130 different nationalities are represented in our tertiary institutions, so all of you, I hope, will feel at home here.
We celebrate our cultural diversity in many ways. We have just recently enjoyed our Chinese New Year celebrations and from March through to the end of April, we host our annual Living in Harmony Festival.
This include a huge array of forums, cultural days, performances, exhibitions, festivals and workshops, and you should find a guide to those activities in the show bags which I hope you've collected.
They also contain information on student safety, library networks and cycling in Sydney. You will also find a lot of useful information on the City of Sydney website, which is available in 10 languages.
Sydney loves to celebrate, and you'll find throughout the year a whole range of excuses to celebrate: Christmas, our famous Sydney New Year's Eve, Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras, Sydney Festival, the mid-winter festival VIVID, so please join in these!
Our tertiary institutions form part of a valuable cultural web which includes museums, theatres and galleries, all within relatively easy reach. I hope that you will find time to explore Sydney's vibrant cultural scene, and our diverse city villages while you are here.
I'm pleased to announce this evening a new pilot program the City is running this year. We're launched an International Student Leadership and Ambassador Program that will provide training, mentoring and practical experience to leaders in the international student community.
It will recruit 20 or 30 international students, looking to the second year cohort, as the first year group such as yourselves are likely to be still settling into the community. But some of you may aspire to join the program next year.
It will help those chosen to engage with our local community in a meaningful way, help develop employment and life skills, provide a wonderful networking opportunity and familiarise them in working with local government.
I hope it will deepen our engagement with our international students and provide those chosen with an even richer experience.
Sydney is proud to host our international students and to recognise that both students and our city benefit.
For many students, it can mean life-changing opportunities; it also strengthens our international ties, especially with the Asia-Pacific region, brings many benefits to our education institutions and builds on our unique and successful multicultural society.
Our wish for all our international students is that you enjoy a safe, happy and productive stay in our City.
I hope you will enjoy living, as well as learning, in our City.
Once again, a very warm welcome to you all.