The roses and thorns of life for new arrivals - overseas students find their voice

Published:13 November 2015

From top: Chinese student Lily Wu, Brazilian student Elaine Lavezzo and Chinese student Emily Gu contributed their personal stories to a new booklet.

A stranger on a train offering a red rose, a brush with a deceitful restaurant manager and an epiphany at a soup kitchen for homeless people .. these stories have something in common.

They are all outcomes from a CQUniversity research project encouraging international students to find their voice by writing their own stories, focusing on creative expression.

Chinese student Emily Gu tells how her frustrations finding part-time work were tempered by being offered a red rose and a 'Merry Christmas' greeting on a train.

Brazilian student Elaine Lavezzo waxes lyrical about her experience of a Sydney soup kitchen for homeless people.

"There was no pumpkin in the soup, just pieces of chicken, carrots, beans and spiced curry. There was no prince that fairy night, just pieces of human beings, hungry and homeless."

And another Chinese student, Lily Wu includes inventive sub-headings - The Stubborn Girl and the Deceitful Restaurant Manager, The Asian Cultural Tradition Rams into Western Freedom, The Battle of the Final Exam, and My First Warm Christmas and New Year Festival.

Lily notes that Australia's Santa Claus "likes to swim in the south Pacific sea or drinks some Pure Blonde ... to keep cool in the hot summer".

The project editors, CQUni's Associate Professor Alison Owens and Professor Donna Lee Brien and freelance writer Dr Janene Carey, will launch a booklet about their research, including the student stories, under the title: Assisting international students develop and publish accounts of learning transformation due to their Australian experiences.

The booklet's formal launch is scheduled for the Australasian Association of Writing Programs Conference (November 30 - December 3 this year) at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne.

PHOTOS via or embedded BELOW.