My Australia Awards Story: Leo Jamorin

Mr Leo Jamorin obtained his Master of Human Resource Management from Griffith University in 2014 with the support of Australia Awards. He was awarded the Griffith Award for Academic Excellence in recognition of his outstanding academic performance at the university. Leo is currently a Senior Human Resource Specialist at the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Regional Office in Region VI.

Below is an excerpt from the speech he delivered during the Australia Awards End of the Year Celebration on 24 November 2014 in Brisbane.

I am deeply humbled and honored to stand in front of you today sharing my learnings and experiences for the last 11 months studying and living in Australia. Just like you, my fellow Australia Awards scholars, we have embarked a new chapter of our lives. Leaving the comforts of our home, and saying goodbyes to our family, friends and relatives in exchange of a once in a lifetime opportunity to study in some of the best universities in this part of the world and get a chance to know more about Australia up close and personal from its beautiful sceneries and experience the friendliness and warm hospitality of its people simply known as the Aussies.

Arriving in Australia last January together with other Filipino scholars signals the start of what I call my great Australian adventure. Considering that my program is only good for a year, my plan is make the most of my stay in Australia. Learn as much as I can from my course and find time to experience and enjoy the unique Australian culture. Studying in Australia under the Australia Awards Program is a blessing by itself. We get to study in some of the best universities in this part of the world and get the chance to upgrade our professional development and contribute to our country’s development. What makes Australia Awards special is it provides a platform for promising and committed individuals from developing countries to become change agents by making a difference in their organisations, communities, and to their countries.

I have to say that the Australian educational system is very different from the Philippines. For one, universities here have a very diverse student population. One would get to meet people from all corners of the world and in the process get to learn and appreciate the unique culture and tradition of every individual. Secondly, the opportunities to learn are endless. One has access to database of academic journals, world-class facilities and some of the most respected academicians in the world.Looking back to the two semesters that I studied, I can truly say that studying in Australia is not for the faint-hearted - spending sleepless nights reading academic journals, and other reference materials, writing essays and at times getting paranoid at the percentage of similarities one can get in Turnitin or Safe Assign and preparing for group presentation. But just in case you panic or when you think you cannot do your assignments right, always remembers what your friend, a classmate or even your course/program convener will tell you –“You will be fine”. Writing an essay or preparing a group presentation can be full of challenges at times. Hence, it has been a habit for me to celebrate small wins after I am done with group presentations, for every essay submitted, and surviving 2 final exams in one day. I still could not imagine how I overcome all these challenges. With a little bit of faith, determination and commitment, those things which I thought as impossible became possible.

Living in Australia has provided me an opportunity to explore and get to know this country better. As an international student, there are so many activities that will allow scholars to explore this beautiful country. It is through these activities that I get to know Australia and its people up close and personal. Even in my regular walks in Southbank or in the Central Business District, I could feel the friendliness and hospitality of Aussies. Having difficulty taking a selfie? No problem, a person will approach you and ask if you like them to take a picture of you. Living in Australia has also given me the chance to know its people and Filipinos who have made Australia as their home. In fact, it is in Australia where I met my elementary and high school classmates after 20 long years. It was a memorable reunion and truly one for the books.

Studying and living in Australia also gave me the opportunity to share the rich culture and heritage of my country. Through conversations with new found friends and acquaintances, I and my other fellow Filipino scholars would proudly tell them of how beautiful our country is and they should take their time to explore the beautiful sceneries and experience the warm hospitality that Filipinos are known for in the Philippines. I would never forget when one of my classmates decided to spend her semestral break last July 2014 in the Philippines. Upon her return to Australia, she told us how she enjoyed her stay in the Philippines and the warm hospitality and smile of the Filipinos made her stay special.

One of the best things about the Australia Awards is the opportunity to meet and engage with scholars from all over the world. The chance to meet and learn from people of different cultures and share their passion and commitment for positive change is both inspiring and motivating. This, for me,is what makes the Australia Awards stand out. From my conversations with my fellow awardees, I am inspired by their passion, commitment and dedication to make a difference in the lives of their fellowmen. In fact, one of best piece of advice I got to make my journey meaningful and fulfilling comes from a Filipino scholar who graduated last July at the University of Sydney, he said make the most of your stay in Australia. Study hard and have fun because it is only when you seize every opportunity to learn, meet people, and explore this country that you get to discover the truly value and essence of the scholarship program.

Being part of the Australia Awards Program opens new opportunities for personal and professional growth to all of us. The Australian Government recognizes that education develops skills and knowledge, builds enduring people, country and professional links, and has the power to influence positive change. The Awards strive to develop leadership potential and stimulate lasting change by empowering a global network of talented individuals through high-quality education experiences in Australia and overseas. In short, this scholarship program expects us to return home bringing new ideas and knowledge and make a significant contribution to our home countries in order to improve living standards of our countrymen and stimulate economic growth. Through the Re-Entry Action Plan or what we call REAP, Filipino scholars have a platform to apply what they have learned in Australia and make a positive impact in the lives of fellow Filipinos.

I consider my Australia award journey a life-changing one.  It is through this journey where I get to know more about myself, learn from my strengths and weaknesses, discover what I am capable of and realize that I still have a lot of things to learn. It is through this journey that I get to empty my cup. Allow myself to learn new ideas, experience new things, get to meet amazing people who I will treasure the friendship and the company for the rest of my life. Australia Awards is not just about getting the best education. It is about widening one’s horizon and perspectives in life. Learning is not confined in the four walls of the lecture theatre. Learning can be acquired through meeting people and engaging in conversations be it attending a conference, or even just meeting random people in in the university, park, streets or even in a coffee shop.

In summary, I can truly say that Australia Awards gave me the best of both of worlds - the opportunity to learn and earn my master’s degree from one of the top universities in the world and the chance to explore and experience the best of Australia has to offer. Everyone would agree that this Australian journey has brought out the best of us.

For sure every scholar will miss Australia’s beautiful sceneries and the warmth and hospitality of its people. Every Aussie will tell you that there are no goodbyes but see you later. On behalf of all the awardees from Queensland, let me take this opportunity to thank the Australian government for giving us this once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of the prestigious Australia Awards Program. As we say it in the Philippines –maraming salamat, Australia, at mabuhay po tayong lahat.