Welcome International Students 2015

Address by Jean-Paul Mouton, Head of the International Division, given at iPrep 2015, Curtin’s Orientation event for international students.

download (1)Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Curtin Sarawak! Many of you have traveled great distances to be here and we’re grateful you did. We’re glad you came and we’re excited about all the promise this university holds for you. We place great value on our international students here at Curtin Sarawak; there are almost 450 of you now and each and every student adds a unique thread to the rich tapestry that gives life and colour to our campus. Thank you for being here, and thank you for the contributions I know you’ll make to our university.

Like you, I’ve also been an international student, having attended universities in both South Africa and Taiwan. The things I remember most about those places and times are not the classes, lectures and tutorials I attended. Today I can’t even recall most of the political science theories I once knew so well and my economics and accounting are rusty. What I do remember though, what I’ll never forget, are the people I met and the good times we had together. From cramming for exams and pulling “all-nighters” studying, to the crazy weekend road trips and pulling “all-nighters” of a very different kind. I remember the friends I made that are still so close to me today, my first serious relationship and my heart breaking when it ended. I remember all the things I tried, eating bees and crocodiles and drinking snake blood, hiking in the mountains, tracing ancient rivers, learning to dive, playing rugby, exploring and adventuring. Being young and the whole wide world being new and mine to explore. That is where you are today.

My advice to you while you’re here, is to try! Try everything! Try-a-dive, try exploring the rivers and rainforests, try to see a Salt-water Crocodile, try to spot a Hornbill, try to cuddle an Orangutan. These experiences are easily available to you here in Borneo and nowhere else. Try the food. Oh, the food! Makan, makan! That means eat in Bahasa and you’ll soon come to understand that eating is the national pastime of Malaysians, and for good reason too. With such a diverse, multicultural society, the variety of cuisines here are going to drive your taste buds wild. Try to get to know the people you’re going to meet here and try to be a friend. It’s through our relationships with others that our lives gain depth and meaning. There are over 40 sub ethnic groups in Sarawak alone and over 45 nationalities represented on our campus. You’ll build a network here that will extend all around the globe and serve you long after your studies are over.

Speaking of studies, try in your classes, try to learn, try to understand, try to be a good student. Think about Curtin’s commitment to “make tomorrow better”. Take that rallying cry to heart. Your generation faces the most pressing challenges to confront mankind in recorded history. Issues like climate change, our dependence on fossil fuels, growing poverty and income inequality are all not of your making, but it is you that will be tasked with solving these problems. Start right now. Equip yourself with knowledge, work closely with your lecturers and try to get involved in the local community. Leave the world a better place for having you in it.

In everything you do here, try. In doing so, you’ll open yourself up to the world of possibilities right on your step. You’ll spread your wings and you’ll learn to know yourself. Over the next three or four years you will change and grow more than you can imagine. It’s important that you do that in an authentic way. Embrace every opportunity and make the most of your time here. Try!

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