“With Courage Let Us All Combine” – Refugee Week At Griffith
By Hayley Payne,
Sunday 19 June marked the beginning of Refugee Week 2016, an initiative established by the Australian Refugee Council, which coincides with World Refugee Day on 20 June.
These events raise awareness of the issues affecting refugees and recognise the many positive contributions refugees make to Australian society.
The theme of this year’s Refugee Week is “With courage let us all combine”, a line from the Australian national anthem. The line reflects not only the courage shown by refugees embracing a new country against adversity, but also in speaking out against injustice and persecution.
Griffith University is no stranger to displays of courage from its students and is home to diverse and inspirational students from refugee backgrounds.
Viola Adiyo is a fifth year Law and Crime and Criminal Justice student who encompasses the many qualities acknowledged and celebrated during Refugee Week. Viola moved from Sudan to Australia with her family almost 12 years ago. Her driving motivation and passion was to pursue a university degree and coming to Australia has allowed her to realise that dream at Griffith University.
Viola was the first in her family to attend university and her studies have ignited a passion for helping others adjust to life at university with the help of the Student Services Uni-Reach and Uni-Key programs.
I had the pleasure of catching up with Viola recently at the Gold Coast campus to discuss Refugee Week and life at university and was struck by her determination and courage for turning her dreams into reality while assisting others to do the same.
What does Refugee Week mean to you?
Refugee Week to me is an acknowledgement of refugees and a sense of welcoming from the wider Australian community to celebrate diversity. Just to have that recognition and acknowledgement of refugees as human beings and not a group of people to be condemned; having that respect for diversity is really important.
How does the Refugee Week theme “With courage let us all combine” resonate with your experience at Griffith University?
I see Griffith as a very diverse and multicultural university with students from all over the world and from so many different nationalities. You feel a sense of belonging here and I feel that this statement ties all of these features together. Griffith is one place where everyone belongs, it is a place where we can recognise each other’s differences and know that we are stronger together.
How have Student Services such as the Uni-Key program helped you with life at university?
Coming to university is very daunting, especially in comparison to being at high school. The Uni-Key program and Student Services helped me to know that there are resources available at Griffith which are there to help you and the mentoring program is amazing. Students share their experiences with you and that is really helpful, they support you to motivate yourself, to be organised and really help you to achieve your goals.
What advice would you give to refugee students who want to pursue a higher education?
People should be open to express their views and their experiences so people understand them and are not biased and classify all refugees as part of one category. Each individual is unique and showcasing your talent and your views is very important. Also, get involved with university life. At the end of the day you want to feel like you are a part of a community. Get involved with your community, whether it be at university or beyond. Whatever capacity you are able to, just get involved and you won’t regret it.
Refugee Week calls for unity and aims to encourage Australians to continuously improve the nation’s resources and welcome refugees – acknowledging and celebrating the skills and spirit refugees bring to Australia.
Events and activities will be held across Australia throughout Refugee Week to celebrate the diversity of our refugees and the amazing contributions they have provided in Australian society.
For more information and to find out how you can get involved head to: www.refugeeweek.org.au
Thanks for reading!
Bachelor of public relations and communications student, Gold Coast campus.