Welcoming Students to Our Town: Engaging Community Based Support

  • Peter Kell
  • Gillian Vogl
Part of the Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (EDAP, volume 17)


Throughout 2009/2010, there were ongoing discussions and interventions by government and universities to overcome the impression that Australia was a dangerous destination and that international students were unwelcome. This chapter describes a community-based research project, initiated by the authors, called Welcome to Wollongong, which is an example of an action research project involving students, university staff, vocational education and training staff, members of the community and other volunteers from community groups. Welcome to Wollongong was designed to assist to build a better international relationship between the university and the community in support of international students, and this was done through a series of symbolic events. The chapter documents a range of similar interventions in other countries where students are symbolically welcomed into their communities by civic leaders in the hosting cities. These interventions include programs in Norway, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States and are accompanied by many interventions at the local government level to welcome and support international students. These events included the Welcome to Wollongong project that included a civic welcome by city leaders and a mini-festival celebrating the presence and diversity of international students as a resource and as a positive contribution to the community. In addition, a series of ‘authentic’ information sites and activities that would enable international students to convey the message of the experiences and their needs, as well as establish networks in the community through working on Welcome to Wollongong. The chapter describes the vital role that the working group and community leaders had in taking a leadership role in supporting a holistic approach to the needs of international students. The project established a different and inclusive environment where international students could, through voluntary work, display skills that enabled them to gain confidence in establishing networks and relationships in the community that may not have otherwise been available to them. The project described here in this chapter has now operated for over 5 years and demonstrates how a local event has global dimensions and how community engagement had an important function in establishing a launching pad to forge some new global partnerships.


International Student City Council Football Club Civic Reception Overseas Student 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Kell
    • 1
  • Gillian Vogl
    • 2
  1. 1.School of EducationCharles Darwin UniversityCasuarinaAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Research on Social InclusionMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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