Second year Electrical and Biomedical Engineering student Jason Ren shares how his work as a Student Ambassador helped him reJason Renflect on cultural diversity at UNSW.

You’re making the transition from high school to university, but you’re also one of thousands of students who are moving away from everything they know and entering a new country.  On all sides people are walking, rushing past you and you don’t know what to do, who to speak to, all around you are strangers. Suddenly you feel alone in the middle of a crowd.

How would you feel walking into orientation week at UNSW as an international student?

Orientation week can be fun, especially when you’re with your high school mates. However, for some, coming to university means leaving behind friends and family. For some, coming to orientation week means walking into a completely new world. This made me realise the significance of my role as an Engineering Student Ambassador and my ability to make a positive impact on another student’s experience by welcoming students from all walks of life.

My name is Jason and I’m a second year electrical and biomedical engineering student. This year I became an Engineering Student Ambassador, something I had been interested in since my own first O-week experience in 2018.

This year during O’Week, I was working on behalf of the faculty to direct students to the right places and conduct tours of the schools. While I was leading a group of students to their faculty welcome a student approached me looking quite flustered. She was trying to find out where her faculty welcome was and was having trouble communicating that. Then she asked me if I spoke mandarin. When I replied that I could, in mandarin, I was surprised at the look of relief on her face when she realised there were ambassadors on hand to help who spoke her native language.

It wasn’t until later that day that I realised the impact that meeting had likely made on this new student. Going to orientation week and meeting new people can be a daunting experience. Combine that with a language barrier hindering the ability to communicate with your new peers and you can almost imagine how that student felt and the challenges she might have been facing. I believe my experience really represents the community at UNSW.  There are a diverse range of student societies that cater for students from all around the globe, from China to Greece to Italy, that hold events such as trivia nights, social gatherings and professional opportunities. My encounter with this student highlighted the importance of cultural diversity in our UNSW community and how a small gesture can have a big impact.

UNSW is incredibly diverse in its people and its culture, and I am fortunate enough to be a part of this community. Being a Student Ambassador has given me the opportunity to make a positive impact to my fellow students’ university experience, and really embrace the whole UNSW community.