‘A time to come out of my comfort zone’: What it’s like to be a student ambassador

Student ambassador
International student Bhawana Subedi at the Sea Lion at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Source: Bhawana Subedi

As a student ambassador for Confederation College in Canada, Bhawana Subedi from Nepal is embracing her passion for helping others.

Want to know more about student housing in the city? How many hours you can work in a week? What’s the weather like? This 23-year-old has the answers.

Student ambassador

Bhawana is dedicated to her role, often staying up late to answer queries from students of different time zones. Source: Bhawana Subedi

Going to a foreign country to study can be stressful. It’s useful to have peers like Bhawana, whom you can comfortably ask many questions.

“I felt that necessity and decided to step up and be a representative for students who are aspiring to study abroad, especially in Canada,” she told Study International via a Zoom interview.

Student ambassadors to the fore

Student ambassador

Student ambassador’s voices also impact incoming students about the prospective town or city they’ll be living in throughout their studies. Source: Bhawana Subedi

Bhawana connects with students — who are from all corners of the globe, including those from Nepal, India, Nigeria and South Korea — on social media and answers their questions.

“Some of the enquiries that students normally have included what is there outside the college — what is the city like? What is the weather like? Are there places to hike, or other beautiful places [to visit]? What are [some of] the part-time jobs [available]? What are the travel options there? So we are not just promoting the college, but also the city itself,” explained Bhawana.

Bhawana also answers enquiries from those who have received their offer letters and have queries about immigration. If she’s in no legal position to answer those queries, she escalates them to the right individuals.  

Student ambassadors stand to develop employability skills

Student ambassador

Student ambassadors can pick up new skills in their role. Source: Bhawana Subedi

From cross-cultural communication to digital marketing skills, student ambassadors harness an impressive set of transferable skills from their role. Bhawana considers herself lucky that she is able to apply the skills and knowledge gained from her digital marketing course in real life. 

“I have to talk to people of different countries and the words that I think might be appropriate here might not be [the case] in another country. So I always need to keep that in mind,” she said.

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing Bhawana and other student ambassadors to get creative in reaching out to students. They have to think of new ideas and brainstorm with their schools on what they can do to convince others to enrol.

Bridging the cultural gap

One of the most exciting and proud moments of Belpage Sadeepa Sandaruwan’s life is being among the 25 selected for StudyNT’s 2020 student ambassador programme from a pool of 112 applications.

Student ambassador

The tassle was worth the hassle. Source: Belpage Sadeepa Sandaruwan

StudyNT student ambassadors promote Australia’s Northern Territory as a study destination for international applicants.  

Sadeepa is an accounting graduate from the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. He is currently doing a Navitas Professional Year Programme — a professional development programme that combines formal learning and Australian internship placement.

It was a natural decision to apply for the programme — the Sri Lankan describes himself as an outgoing person who enjoys meeting new people and sharing his stories with others. 

His experience as a student ambassador has been nothing short of “amazing” as it allows him to represent his country and his institution simultaneously. 

A chance to step outside your comfort zone

Student ambassador

Sadeepa is a traditional Sri Lankan dancer. Source: Belpage Sadeepa Sandaruwan

As a StudyNT student ambassador, Sadeepa promotes NT using his personal and Study NT’s social media platforms, as well as through formal events, national events and conferences.

He takes part in community events and activities too, in addition to meeting political leaders, the business community as well as academics.

Sadeepa believes being a student ambassador allows students to be a better version of themselves. 

Student ambassador

While Sadeepa found the prospect of speaking in front of a camera daunting, he knew it was important to step out of his comfort zone. Source: Belpage Sadeepa Sandaruwan

While he’s comfortable talking to people, public speaking is not his forte, adding that he gets “super nervous”. When shooting a video about Darwin, he felt insecure speaking and doing a voiceover on video in English as it is his second language. 

“I told myself that this is a time to come out of my comfort zone – this is the time to teach myself how to do it,” he said. Having personal development programmes and help from project officers helped too. 

Balancing his time between his studies, student ambassador duties, his job as a manager at McDonald’s and a dancer and choreographer has its challenges, but Sadeepa believes that “if you love what you do and do what you love you can still find time to do anything”.

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