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Editions

Finding a sense of belonging

02 Oct 2014

Finding a sense of belonging Image

For international students, the experience of living and studying in a foreign country can be a challenging one.

Language and cultural barriers, the demands of study and work and difficulty connecting with local residents are common issues that international students face.

But a project being held in Docklands over the next few months aims to give international students the skills to thrive in, and connect with, the local community.

Supported by the City of Melbourne and the Australian Federation of International Students (AFIS), the project involves a series of theatre workshops held at the Library at the Dock and facilitated by Catherine Simmonds.

Having worked in community cultural development for 22 years, Ms Simmonds said her work was about creating spaces where people could learn about and express themselves.

The project, called “Transient Belonging” will involve a series of workshops that will ultimately lead to a theatre production.

“I run workshops with international students that develop confidence and creativity, sense of place, sense of interaction and expression of the issues and experiences they are having,” Ms Simmonds said.

She said the project would also involve students going out into the community, interviewing people and gathering information about the local area and the experiences of local people.

“The eventual aim is to create a performance and that performance is the conduit that allows the wider audience to look into the themes, to see the stories, to see what people have said and to see people connecting and ultimately to be inspired,” she said.

According to AFIS project manager Antoinette Vicentello, Docklands was a logical location for the project, with a large population of international students and also some symbolic connections.

“We consider that Docklands is somewhat of an isolated area and the many international students feel isolated too,” she said.

With further funding the project could be extended and run throughout next year, involving greater collaboration with members of the Docklands community and a larger-scale final production.

Ms Simmonds said anyone was welcome to take part.

 “This kind of work isn’t premised at all on talent or the desire to be an actor,” Ms Simmonds said.

“It’s about enquiry. You don’t have to be a confident person but through participation you’ll develop confidence in English and self expression.”

The workshops will be held weekly at the Library at the Dock at 7pm on Monday nights from November 3 through to December 8.

For more information contact (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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