Iftekhar Wasiyu (Independent)
Let me begin by saying thanks to all of you who’ve travelled from different corners of the world to brave this solo journey. You guys motivate me and make Curtin feel like my home away from home. We all made this journey for a reason. We came here with a simple vision for ourselves that is more determined, more competitive, and better positioned for the future in a country that out-innovates, out-educates and out-builds the rest of the world. We all know that moving to a different environment will bring challenges, but this is what makes the journey more exciting. In the face of disputes, we believe in opportunities, in despair, we believe in hope, and in the face of discrimination and division, we believe that we can come together as one people to build a more perfect alliance. That’s the journey we are on today.
Let me tell you how I came to be here. Six months ago, I moved to Western Australia to start my final year. I barely knew anyone in Perth when I arrived without any family connections. In a month’s time I saw a poster from Enactus Curtin recruiting new committee members, and I applied and accepted the position site on scene motivated then by a single simple powerful idea that I might play a small part in building a better union. Doing this kind of volunteer work, I received the best education, where I learned the power of coming together as one people and what it can achieve. I am someone whose life has taught me to persevere, how to bounce back when I have been knocked down. I have always lived by what my parents taught me in my early years. No one is better than me, but I am better than no one. A belief to treat everybody I meet with dignity and that everybody counts.
Here at Curtin University, I saw all that is Australia’s diversity converged. Students from all around the world, perpetuating different cultures and beliefs with a unique story to tell and clamoring to be heard. I made lasting friendships here, it is where we learned to disagree without being disagreeable and that so long as we are willing to listen to each other we can assume the best in people instead of the worst. It is where I was reminded of the essential decency of the Australian people where I came to believe through this decency, we can build a more hopeful union for all. That is why I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for president of the International Student Committee.
This election has never been about me it is about you! You have shown what history teaches us that a defining moment like this in the midst of a global pandemic, the change doesn’t come from Curtin, change comes to Curtin. Change comes to the International Students when we demand it and rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership. We cannot turn back not with so much work to be done and not with so many offshore international students not getting the facilities they were promised, not with so many onshore students who still feels that Curtin University doesn’t have a place for him/her and not when students are facing financial hardship and when so many students suffering mental health issue as they can’t go back home for the longest of time. We cannot turn back, we cannot walk alone at this moment, in this election we must pledge once more to merge into the future.
International students that I have met across my six months in Perth, students who speak of their struggles but also of their hope of their dreams. Hope that led those to leave everything behind and cross oceans to reach the shore of Australia, hope that Australia has a place for us no matter where we come from and the culture we perpetuate, hope that in this union we are not judged by the color of our skin but by the merit of our character. IT MAY LOOK DARK TONIGHT, BUT IF WE HOLD DOWN TO HOPE, TOMORROW WILL BE BRIGHTER. That’s what this election is about, that’s the choice we face right now. We have lot of work to do! We can choose hope over fear and unity over division. We can come together as one people that’s what we are fighting for and in this last week if you talk to your classmates and convince your friends, if you stand with me and fight with me and give me your vote then I promise you we will win this election and together we will make it a more united and perfect union.