Reflections on Perth – 2001 (The Student Leader)

Need I say more? Happy Chinese New Year to everyone! 🙂
Here’s the second half of me reminiscing the good old days of 2001, namely when I was an international student representative. Friends not from Perth will probably find these quite dry and uninteresting, so please bear with me. Friends from Perth can probably relate to what I write, as it is most likely through the ISC that I got to know you.
Being the youngest in my family usually mean that my opinion aren’t entertained by others in the family. Its just one of those things that’s embedded in the traditional Chinese culture – always respect and obey the elders, and never question their decisions. Usually when I suggest to my elder sister, say, a different technique of doing something , her favourite reply would be the standard “Don’t ask questions. Just do what I say.” So I grew up taking orders and doing what other people tell me to do.

When I was elected as the International Student Committee (ISC) Convenor, I knew I was in for a different kind of challenge – the last leadership experience I had before this, was to babysit my little cousins when I was 12 years old.

Student bodies in Australian Universities are very different to those back home. The ISC is totally funded by students, the University has no direct control over its operations, and apart from social and cultural events, and the ISC Convenor together with University management has a role in the operations and directions of the Uni. All these sounded very boring and ‘tua liap’, but the fun comes in when you start meeting and interacting with new people.

I started the year with 7 other students. We organised an orientation trip for the new students and through simple projects like that, we bonded. You might have noticed that 6 out of the 8 of us are girls. For the record, I have tremendous respect for female leaders. From my experiences, I find that most male leaders want to be a leader because its a very big-ball thing to do – they want the power, the important-sounding title, yet they don’t put much heart into what they do. Female leaders tend to display the level of loyalty that’s critical the organisation. They can lead and be led, and their careful attention to detail to the job is something I am very impressed with. My recreation officer Connie handled a traditionally difficult position with relative ease – leading, training and educating many new volunteers during her term. My publication officer Huey Ying is one of the most outstanding, hardworking and relentless individual I have ever came across – she is one of those who put so much heart into her work, that she will not sleep until she gets the task on hand 110% done.
The 4 ISO Presidents of WA in 2001. Kenny (Curtin), Nick Tan (ECU), Steven Han (Murdoch), and Lendon Chong (UWA)
Anyway, after the semester started we recruited a few more volunteers (who also recommended their friends to volunteer for the ISC) which expanded our group from the original 8 person team to 40-plus active volunteers. After that, we built links with the many country/religion-based clubs on campus, and we got to know more students from Curtin. Through NLC WA (state-level student body), we met up with similar student organisations from other WA Universities, got to know even more students. If that’s not enough, around mid-year the NLC (national-level student body) held a conference and we got to know students from all over the country! 🙂

If Friendster existed back then, my friends list would probably cripple the Friendster network. Unfortunately it didn’t, which means I have to settle with less than 100 friends on my list now. 🙁

It was really great to get to know so many people so quickly. Forget about socialising in pubs and clubs, everyone should join a student association at University! In fact, I know a few people who actually met their current bf or gf that way. *cough*Chrissie*cough*Naomi*cough**cough* :). You can’t blame them though. We’re talking about a group full of young, brash and confident 20 somethings getting together and working through day and night to achieve a common goal.
One of the few perks of being a student leader is that you get to travel a lot. Every now and then there will be a meeting here or a conference there to attend. Being the international student representative from Curtin University, I need to uhh… meet with the decision makers who hold welfare of international students in their hands. 🙂 I got plenty subsidised trips during my time with the ISC. Usually we would attend meetings and boring stuff like that for the first few days. After all that is done, its all fun and games. So far we’ve been to…
Melbourne Skyline
Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Australian Parliament House
Curtin Miri
Even Miri, Sarawak! I was there because Curtin University had just started its offshore campus. The student union in Curtin Bentley is concerned about the quality of services over in Miri, so I was sent on an ‘ambassador mission’ to touch base with the Curtin Sarawak Student Council and then report back to Perth. It was a simple job and it was memorable.
Pasar Malam - Full Moon
Looking back I reckon we did a pretty good job leading ISC. One of the most memorable events happened in the lead up to the Curtin ISC Pasar Malam – our biggest cultural event. The event was held on 12th September 2001. I wasn’t sleeping much at all the night before – I was glued watching the news on the terrorist attacks till 3am. The next morning at 8am I was called into an emergency meeting with the University’s International Office. The first thing that went through my head was that they were going to ask me to cancel the event (!). Of course that didn’t happen. 🙂
Pasar Malam - Celebrations
The Pasar Malam went ahead as planned. After talking to the University we figured that events like this celebrates our differences in culture, which is especially important in the aftermath of 9-11. During the Pasar Malam, there was an American student wearing American flag who approached the mic stand. He made a touching speech about staying strong and pledging tolerance. I later saw him having a chat and getting food from the Muslim Students’ Association stall. And I thought to myself “What the world needs is more people like him.”
New friends and free airplane trips aside, being a student leader is still no easy job. Try juggling assignments and running a student organisation and before you know it, you are occupied 18 hours a day, everyday of the year. I remembered countless times when I called Nicole, only to doze off with her on the other end of a very expensive international call. Sometimes I promised to call her but I didn’t call at all, which is like me tickling Saddam Hussein on the nuts – asking for a major ass-whooping.
Kenny Before and After
Its a good thing she’s not in Perth though. During this period of time I did not have the time to visit the gym at all, and my weight ballooned. I didn’t have time to get new clothes, so imagine a fat Kenny wearing clothes two sizes too small for him and you’ll get the idea.
Ba Zhang
I earned the nickname “Ba Zhang” (glutinous rice dumplings).

22 Replies to “Reflections on Perth – 2001 (The Student Leader)”

  1. Oh my god – the memories! The memories! 🙂
    Hey, what’s with this reflections of 2001 anyways? Very long time ago you know 😛
    Ah, the days when I was still in Perth and yes, a konon student leader. In fact, that’s how we met wasn’t it Kenny, late 2000 – student elections? Gosh, how time flies.
    Gosh, gosh, gosh.
    Oh, it’s almost new year – gong xi fa chai! 🙂

  2. I know! We are getting old very fast aren’t we? Basically I’m leaving Perth for good in a few weeks time, so I’m just writing these precious moments down that’s all. 🙂

  3. wow, it must have been great being a student leader. I was only ever a prefect, but hearing your story has really ignited a desire for me to join a student organisation in uni. As I am just starting this year, what you have said has really meant something to me. Have a very happy new year and thank you for the birthday wishes. It was ever so sweet ^^”

  4. yeah does teach u lots of things about the difference in each culture.
    getting elected was one of my most memorable experience in Aussie.

  5. mygosh so much memories. i guess being involved with student representation does change ones life. sigh reading your post today makes me sad too. im missing those time.
    have a good new year and enjoy the bits and pieces of whats left in perth

  6. Aiks..Niki, you were from Kenny’s batch? Ohh…now everything makes sense..
    Kenny-looks like your primary goals joining ISC to is to socialise and your secondary goal is to get subsidised trips…tsk tsk…what’s happening to student representation these days..haha..kidding!
    I knew you did a good job in ISC, judging from all the ISC ‘juniors’ of yours repeating your name like a well regarded legend..
    And oh-my tutor once made a very interesting comment…he said that women are very intelligent creatures..they knew that taking over the world is a 24/7 blood and sweat task hence they’d sit back and let the men do it instead…

  7. Feli – Same to you too. 🙂
    Bek – See my ‘Before and After’ pic? You might want to reconsider!
    Guy – Seems like you enjoyed it as much as I did. Student representatives are often stereotyped as some loudmouth left-wing hippies who don’t have a life. I thought I was the only one who think student representation was fun. 🙂
    Chrissie – Kueh Ni Liaw. Don’t be sad. 🙂 Those were the good times back then, but its not one thing you wanted to do forever anyway. It was great while it lasted though. Honestly I had as much fun watching the new batch coming in and doing their thing.
    sparkle – I try to be! Not gonna have this kinda experience anymore once I leave Uni you know? Gotta do as much as I can while I can.
    Kher Ying – You knew Niki too? You sounded like you solved an X-Files mystery.
    Actually you’re right about my goals joining ISC! My elder siblings used to be in the ISC and they raved about it. But that attitude was when I first started anyway. Over time after I understood the issues at hand, I began to look on the serious side of things. But I can’t be arsed blogging about student issues! People are going to fall asleep!
    Your tutor made women sound like they are so lazy lah. Hope he/she didn’t get flamed by feminists. Heh.

  8. my, you’re pretty active in de uni. i never joined this leadership stuff.i was never even a prefect. but i know de discourse of my family make me a dictator one day, cus i guess dats how my parents raise me, i have a problem cus im never happy for what have given. feels like there’s sumthin missing. i know it’s bad but it makes me more rebellious. i should change.
    you’re de youngest? being de youngest is good too. im de middle so i was raised givin orders n follow orders. sigh.
    salute to u for losing so much weight. my sis n my lil bro are pretty big size but never lose weight. hmm…any secrets?

  9. aahah i’m really amused by the before and after.. happy new year! 🙂
    and btw.. the melbourne pic is… wow… divine

  10. Actually… tis is making me worry bout wat will happen wen my boyfren n I go to diff countries n unis…
    N he joins student associations like such, n charms d socks of all the girls! (coz hes n extreme charmer!!! 🙁 ) Spending late nights settling society work…
    Aih… sad sad sad…. how leh? =P

  11. Allyssa – Haiya… every young couple has to spend some time apart at some stage, due to reasons outside their control. How things sort out depends on how each couple handle it loh. In the end, it all boils down to how well you trust each other, and how much freedom you’re willing to give each other. 🙂
    If you’re the ‘one’ for him, then you have nothing to worry about.

  12. Hmmm… I only just found out about ur blog site recently..
    Reading this make me feel… sad… I wasn’t in the student group, but I joined a very active society back in uni…I met so many wonderful people from different cultural background back then as well…sigh…those were the fun times…
    I miss Melbourne 🙁
    I miss Australia 🙁

  13. Hi Kenny,
    I was reading through your ‘Reflections on Perth’ & I happen to see your Pasar Malam shot, do you know the guy in the middle of the 3 in the shot?

  14. Read this entry way back before. But come back to it for some advice 😉 Haha, the name for international students associations of Australian universities all sound similar. Ours is ISN – International Students Network 🙂

  15. hmmm…reading your blog reminds me of my days in melbourne & muoss.. 😉
    the ever busy life as a international student office bearer..

  16. Thanks for sharing and reminding me of how uni days were back in Curtin. All those meetings and events, meeting new friends, juggling studies/uni work, free trip to the East 😉 etc, as I was also involved in ISC, NLC, NUS, Guild and Uni Council.
    There’re a whole bunch of us Malaysian/Sporean involved backed in the 90s. Good to know that our work continued on.

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