Kent’s Student Engagement and Wellbeing Coordinator, Lydia (L), recently sat down with our student John Jatto (J) to chat about his participation in the City of Sydney’s ISLA Program. The ISLA Program aims to help students from abroad to improve their communication and leadership skills, get some practical work experience, expand their professional networks and make new friends along the way.
L: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us John; let’s get it started shall we? Firstly, what was your motivation to begin your studies in Australia?
J: There were two main reasons I chose to study in Australia. The first was to be able to gain a qualification that would advance my career. Although the course I study is also available in Nigeria (my home country), I believe international education was a better option to be able to gain superior knowledge in both personal and professional development. The second reason was the amount of opportunities I believed Australia holds for me in my chosen career. I have a strong passion for business and equality, and aspire to be a change agent back in my home country. I believe that if you possess superior knowledge and skills, people will give you a chance to achieve your goals.
L: Can you tell us more about the ISLA program, and what you hope to achieve through it?
J: The ISLA program is a chance for international students to receive free training in many areas of leadership, personal and professional development, enables participants to acquire transferable skills and knowledge to build a successful career in the future, allows mentors to offer their experiences and guidance to participants of the program and ultimately increase the positive experiences of international students studying in Sydney. The program also challenges international students to think about projects that could potentially benefit the City of Sydney as a globalised city, and offer support for the city’s landmark program, Sustainable Sydney 2030. With ISLA program, I hope to fast track my professional development through the trainings and workshops, expand my social and professional networks through the volunteering opportunities to participate in City of Sydney events and the utilize this platform to engage international students in social works through cross cultural integration.
L: Is there a project that you are focusing on now for the program?
J: Basically, my focus for the program currently involves exploring the best ways for international students to fit into Australia when they first arrive for their studies. There are three main avenues to achieve this, which include finding ways to improve a student’s English if they do not feel their level is adequate, providing ways for students to access important information about Australia and lastly, exploring the best methods for international students to fit into their local community.
L: It will be exciting to see what comes from those ideas, watch this space! I know you have had some experience in leadership roles before, would you like to tell us a bit more about them?
J: Back in my Nigeria, when I was studying my previous degree, I was part of a program that worked with different people to mentor and support them in different aspects of their life. We encouraged them to focus on their own individual goals, and for them to block out any distractions that would obstruct them from achieving these goals. The program hoped to supply them with a family outside of their own, and provide them with a support network should they ever need to talk about their life problems.
L: Okay and to the last question, where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
J: It’s a question I ask myself a lot. I have three years to study in Australia, then what next? I have started to really fall in love with this country, and believe it is a great place to live. However, I am still very passionate about Nigeria and would like to make an impact back home. I believe that the more I learn in Australia, the greater my knowledge will be to help me start my own business when I return to my home country. Because it is such a developing country, we can learn many things from a country such as Australia. Although starting your own business requires a lot of discipline and effort, my dream is to establish an organisation that operates in both Australia and back home, and for me to be an international businessperson. After that, who knows… maybe a career in politics?
L: Sounds very exciting! Thank you John very much for taking the time to sit down with us to discuss all of the opportunities coming your way at the moment, we wish you every success moving forward.