Libyan students face uncertainty in Australia

Your bags are packed. Adrenaline and excitement take over as you’re about to make your way across the other side of the world. You hug your brother one more time, not knowing whether he’ll be there when you return. For Libyan student, Hamed Elkaseh, the trepidation of not seeing his brother again may become a reality.

Hamed, one of approximately 10 000 international students attending the University of Wollongong, is struggling with his studies as his thoughts remain back home where the Libyan crisis continues to worsen. “I have my brother, he is in the frontline… every time I get a call from Libya I say ‘Oh my God I hope nothing has happened to him’…that has put a lot of pressure on me during my studies. I start to think about him every day, every second. It’s hard,” he says, masking his fear and worry with a weary smile.

Well renowned for being a multicultural university  comprising of students from all over the globe, University of Wollongong is a popular choice for Libyan students who are travelling for education purposes. Peter Muarry, admissions coordinator at the University of Wollongong says, “A lot of the Libyan students are encountering hardship…mainly being away from their families, not having clear lines of communication and the added pressure of being a new student in a foreign country while having to manage your studies,” is taking its toll on Libyan students.

In early August, the Libyan government, under the control of Muammar Gaddaffi, froze the majority of scholarships that Libyan students were relying on for their living expenses. In order to financially protect these students, Australian Universities and the federal government are providing them with monetary packages for the next three months. “The deal between the Libyan embassy in Canberra and the Australian government has really helped us Libyan students. We don’t get all of the money, only about 75 per cent, but it’s still very good and we are thankful,” says Hamed.

The financial assistance from the government and universities’ has been supplemented with moral support from domestic students. One Local student, Brendon Hammond says it’s important to help     international students; “they offer cultural diversity to our university environment and provide us with the opportunity to interact with them and learn more about their countries, customs and traditions.”

While Libya’s future remains uncertain, Hamed shares what he wishes to see happen in the country, “As Libyans we want what we are fighting for now, freedom. We want a democratic country where we have elections and a president, just like all other countries,” says Hamed.  “Before we had just one person owning the country and the people said no more. You are not allowed to control us anymore.”

Widyan Al Ubudy.

~ by widyanalubudy on June 8, 2012.

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