My journey with City of Sydney – ISLA program

I consider my journey Down Under as an opportunity to go on a life adventure! I’ll never know for sure what lies ahead, and it makes me anxious. It gives about an unsettling feeling, but the good kind. It makes me feel excited and curious. It gets me going, thrilled to encounter the next new adventure. Such is what I felt when I joined the Brightly Storytellers. It served as a perfect platform for me to explore an opportunity to write and share my experiences, as well as information I find that might be useful for international students such as myself. Also thanks to Brightly, I was introduced to this wonderful opportunity to join a comprehensive leadership training program under the City of Sydney!

This program under the City of Sydney is called ISLA – International Student Leadership & Ambassador Program. I couldn’t contain my excitement when I learned what the program was all about. It was tough to get through the selection process as more than a hundred applied for the program and it entailed several assessment items and activities, as well as a panel interview. Thankfully, I got through it, and with the rest of other 32 International Student Ambassadors, we are all on-board the 18-month journey of ISLA.

The very first workshop day gave me preview of what I was getting into. I was pleasantly surprised to meet other international students, all with their own stories to share. We are a happy bunch, all eager to learn and to share our experiences, common interests, and to be representatives for other international students, too! The first workshop was the time to meet each ISLA member and to learn more about the objectives of the program, and our responsibilities as International Student Leaders and Ambassadors.

The week after, we had a workshop about cultural intelligence. It was truly very informative. We had an amazing time learning about the concept of cultural intelligence, multiculturalism, and how best we can go about dilemmas that concern working in a multicultural setup. This skill is essential for global leaders so as to be able to work effectively with people coming from different backgrounds, especially because Australia is widely known to be multicultural. It was great to know about the culture of each co-ISLA member and to know about how similar and different we are from each other, culture-wise.


So far, we’ve only been skimming through the tip of the iceberg of what’s in store for us in the ISLA Program. It’s the type of experience that is very challenging indeed, as we are to juggle more workshop schedules and responsibilities as an ISLA member. Being part of this program opens a lot of windows for us, to learn and to make a difference, to contribute to society even in little ways through volunteering, but it’s one I know I will treasure in my international student journey.

Photo: © Gian Gonzales

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