Having been in Melbourne for just four months, Zafeirios Karagkounis has been named as a finalist for the Victorian international student of the year award.
Despite not picking up English for seven years, Thessaloniki born Zafeirios Karagkounis has been named as a finalist for the Victorian international student of the year award.
Touching down in Melbourne four months ago, the 27-year-old had completely forgotten his English classes, but after a couple of months with his head back in the books, he is flourishing.
As part of the Victorian International Education Awards, Zafeirios has been named as one of three finalists in the English language training section of the competition.
He is joined by fellow Academia International student Nabsiri Doungsuawan and Monash University English Language Centre’s Rafael Barty Dextro.
Zafeirios was pushed to enter the competition by his teacher, who saw his amazing results so early on. The award doesn’t just look at academic excellence, but also seeks to award students who show good leadership skills.
“Zafeirios has been in my class just for a few weeks but he is already a very popular student in the class,” Academia International teacher Alexsandra Grosiak tells Neos Kosmos.
“He gets along really well with all the students from different nationalities and has made a few friends in the class. I have noticed that during group discussions, he listens to the other students and encourages them to talk by asking questions and showing a real interest in what they have to say.”
A modest man, Zafeirios says his results come down to the fact that he doesn’t want to fall behind in class.
“Every night I do my homework, my assignments, and before I go to school I study everything my teacher says,” Zafeirios tells Neos Kosmos.
He is enrolled in an upper intermediate English class which prepares international students for academic study at tertiary level or for entry into a university course.
Back in Greece, Zafeirios was studying informatics and communication, and hopes to continue down that path in Australia.
First he has to get over his aversion to writing and reading the language.
“I’d like to improve my spoken word, I love to speak English but I hate writing,” he says.
Zafeirios doesn’t fit the usual mould of Greek migrants coming to Australia right now.
He isn’t here escaping the crisis, or looking for more opportunities, he’s here for love.
“I came to Australia because my girlfriend moved here, and so I decided to move down here,” he says.
Working part-time, studying full-time, he hasn’t had much time to immerse himself in the Australian way of life, but says he has been to Oakleigh a couple of times and seen the Greek precinct to gauge how large the Greek Australian community is.
With a nomination under his belt, Zafeirios is pretty chuffed just to be nominated, but a win would indeed be the icing on the cake.
“I’m very bad with luck, but who knows?” he says about his chances.
The winners of the individual student awards will receive scholarships of up to $10,000 for study related expenses and an additional $10,000 will be awarded to the winner of the Premier’s Award for international student of the year.
The awards don’t just acknowledge great academic results, but also award students that show leadership qualities and engagement in the community.
Minister for Employment and Trade Louise Asher said the contribution international students make in Victoria is well noted.
“Our state attracts around 140,000 international student enrolments each year, and the awards showcase the unique, valuable and diverse contribution made by international education to the Victorian community.”
International education is now Victoria’s single largest export industry, contributing almost $4.5 billion to the state’s economy and providing around 30,000 jobs in 2013.
The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on September 9.
source: Neos Kosmos