Inspiring connection: the value of engaging in the context of creating community and connectedness for regional international students

Ms Zita Tattersall1

1Deakin University, Warrnambool, Australia

Since the shift to a virtual student support service in March this year due to COVID, Deakin University adapted its existing social engagement projects supported by Victoria funding through the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Study Melbourne, to create a digital wellbeing social program which aims to support Warrnambool regional international students who were struggling to stay connected in an online learning environment. Although online support services were available for students, Warrnambool international students identified a need for more face to face interactions due to the strict social distancing measures. In response, our campus worked to increase online social platforms in an effort to reach as many international students as possible. This session will showcase some of the projects, including community Pilate and Guitar Tutor sessions, weekly Recipe Share and Wellbeing sessions, which have successfully built community connections for international students and cultural groups within our regional community. The programs have developed into a virtual engagement and communication strategy, which has provided a platform for community members to connect with international students, extending to virtual welcome dinners between families and international students, fresh food donations and invitations to a range of community health programs including learn to swim and cycling group sessions. Through this digital social platform emerged a powerful way to build belonging, wellbeing and connection between our local and international communities.



Zita Tattersall is an International Student Adviser at Deakin University at the Warrnambool campus, and has worked for many years in the area of student support, wellbeing and engagement. Zita is passionate about learning and exploring other cultures and shaping social engagement projects to collaboratively improve the student experience. When she is not applying for grant applications, or planning her next gourmet Michelin Star recipe reveal with international students, Zita is likely to be buried beneath books trying to escape a house full of teenagers.

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