UTS alumna receives the City of Sydney's 2015 Betty Makin Youth Award

05 May 2015

Jiani (Laura) LiuInternational students are set to benefit from the 2015 Betty Makin Youth Award presented recently to UTS Communications alumna Jiani (Laura) Liu by the City of Sydney.

Liu, one of three individual awardees for her outstanding contribution to the community, is planning to donate the prize money to help newly arrived international students settle into Sydney.

The City of Sydney's Betty Makin Youth Awards is an annual event that marks national youth week and Sydney City's celebrations. The award recognises the key contributions young people, youth workers and police officers make in the community.

During Liu's final year studying the Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Public Relations), she undertook an internship with the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC). Liu worked on campaigns such as Sample Sydney, AussieVault and LittleSongsters, gaining personal and practical experience that provided her with inspiration for her future career.

Her most important contribution was volunteering to help with the Martin Place siege memorial in December 2014. Acting on behalf of the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC), Laura assisted with the public condolence book translating condolence messages received in Mandarin into English.

"I was incredibly touched by how many people the event affected," said Liu. "I was astounded by the number of non-English speaking members of the community who left messages. I remember a lady who expressed how sad she was for the children who lost their mother. She desperately wanted to leave them a letter, however her English was not very good. So she wrote down everything in Mandarin and I translated it into English."

Liu's excellent communication and translation skills were also utilised at other local and national cultural events in Sydney, such as Australia Day, Remembrance Day and G20 leaders visit to Sydney.

"During my internship, I helped maintain relationships with state governments and external stakeholders. The most profound event that I was involved in was the 2014 Australia G20 summit. I greeted the president of China!"

"I am so grateful and humbled to receive this award, especially as this year is the 20th anniversary of Betty Makin Youth Awards," said Liu.

"Betty Makin was an active volunteer in many community groups and as the only international recipient of the award I see the positive shift in recognition of international communities in Sydney. People in Sydney are embracing multiculturalism and valuing the importance of utilising international speakers and community leaders to help with local events."
In true community consciousness, Laura plans on donating the prize money to creating seminars that help international students transition into life in Sydney.

"The seminars will run within UTS, targeting new international students, ideally during orientation week, prior to the new semester. UTS international alumni will be invited to give a speech during the workshops, drawing on their experience and new life in Australia," said Liu.

"A UTS mentor and buddy system will be promoted during the seminar and encouraged throughout the event."
Liu's advice to international students is that "Everyone can be an achiever!"

"UTS is a multicultural campus with a good international vibe. Before I graduated from UTS, I met people from different countries on campus and had several opportunities to work with multicultural organisations.

"I worked on a ten week school project with Marrickville Council, assisting them to develop solutions to engage local diverse residents and a communication project with Hornsby Kuring-gai Community College helping them create marketing templates to raise awareness.

"When I first arrived in Australia, I shared the same ambivalence as my international peers and had the same cultural shock experience. But while at UTS, surrounded by all these helpful resources, I was not afraid to reach out to people. There are resources at UTS that help you adapt into Australian and university lifestyle.

"Stepping out of your comfort zone is hard at first but once you step out, you will see the world is responding to you as well."
Liu continues her work in the youth engagement field, supporting Sydney's international students to adapt to Australian culture and provide local government with new channels to engage with these students.

Liu continues her work in the youth engagement field, supporting Sydney's international students to adapt to Australian culture and provide local government with new channels to engage with these students.

Story by Michelle Price, UTS International
Photography supplied.

This article was originally published on the UTS Newsroom