Prioritising education

When it became clear that countries were about to close their borders to prevent the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic, our international students were faced with a quandary – stay in Australia and risk not seeing their family for some time or leave with the possibility of not returning to the School for an indefinite period.

For Year 11 student Andy Jiang, who hails from Shanghai, there really wasn’t any choice. “When I came back to Australia at the start of the school year, the virus was already in China and travel bans were being talked about, so my family knew there was a chance I might not be able to get back for a period of time,” he explains. “However, we agreed that my education was really important, and I wanted to complete it at Melbourne Grammar, so I made the journey to Australia knowing I might not get back to them for a while.”

“I am used to going home every Term break, so I really miss my family,” adds Andy. “I’ve been lucky to have good friends in the Boarding House who have helped me through this. I stayed with a former boarder who is now at university during the off-campus learning period, and I’m going to stay with another boarder’s family in Geelong over the upcoming break.”

Daniel Raurela, Year 11, has quite a strong Melbourne-based support network in place so, for him, that made the decision easier. He was fortunate have a Local Support Person (guardian) who invited Daniel and another Papua New Guinea student to stay with her family while the Boarding House was closed. Daniel’s older brother, Dudley Raurela (OM 2017), is completing his tertiary studies in Melbourne so he also had a close family member nearby.

“A whole year is a long time to be away from my mum and dad, and younger brother. They are really missing me as well,” says Daniel. “I’m pretty lucky to have people in Melbourne who help take care of me.”

“I’d really like to thank my guardians for all they have done,” says Daniel. “I normally only go home in the middle and end of the year, so I have stayed with them before, but this was for a much longer period of time.”

“I want to do well in my studies so, even though it was a hard choice, I think I have made the right decision,” adds Daniel. “It was the best thing for my education.”

Of the 16 international students attending Melbourne Grammar School, ten elected to stay in Australia when the COVID-19 travel restrictions were foreshadowed.