This semester Ranad, one of our EAL students, volunteered for the Student Innovative Pilot – an initiative to engage students in promoting mental wellbeing. Here are her reflections.
Moving to Australia from Syria in the past year, I have been through enormous changes to start a new chapter of my life. The first thing I knew that I should do was to find an institution that provided courses to prepare students for further study. Therefore, I chose RMIT University to study Certificate III & IV in EAL (English as an Additional Language). Being part of RMIT University was amazing starting from the support you get from your teachers down to the support system it provides for students. I did not hesitate to engage in a lot of activities happening at the university to help me apply my English skills.
During the past few months I have been part of the RMIT Student Innovative Pilot Program. I feel very grateful to be involved in this because I had the opportunity to be trained by experts to become a leader and to meet and work with a group of 39 amazing student leaders and the Activator Team to come up with a project to remove the stigma around mental health and building mental health awareness among students. The overall process has been full of obstacles for me as I am the only person in the group of 40 students who is an EAL student but I was so proud to be selected from more than 140 applicants and I see it as an opportunity to challenge myself to become the best leader I can be. I feel I have gained so many skills through this collaboration such as managing, planning, decision making, problem solving and finding innovative ideas and I know that I will need these in the future.
I attended three full day workshops with RMIT Activator and the RMIT Wellbeing team in partnership with the RMIT University Student Union (RUSU) as part of this program. The group also maintains contact through working online and attending short meetings. From this collaboration we came up with the name Foremind and the first event Wind Down Wednesday.
We are working to develop a better knowledge of mental health and how we can best engage students by providing an environment where they can ask for help and support. Nothing was better for me than seeing the result of our planning for our first initiative, the Wind Down Wednesday where we used simple ideas like ball pits to start up conversations and marbles in a jar to help everyone feel they belong. The feedback was so positive, it was a happy and relaxed experience and the response was 100% enthusiastic. Hopefully it is the beginning of opening a discussion on mental health. RMIT is the first university to initiate this.
Thanks to Jennifer for encouraging Ranad and supporting her involvement in this opportunity.