After a rigorous and lengthy selection process, Martin student Zaki Haidari has been named a finalist for the prestigious NSW International Student of the Year Award!  Warren Jacobson, Managing Director Australasia, along with Elizabeth Lovell, Director of Operations Australasia, and John Martin, Head of Martin College, will be attending the ceremony on 13 October at the Sydney Opera House to show their support.

The initial award nomination was put forward by Martin, but it wasn’t long before the NSW government representatives for the award saw Zaki’s incredible potential through the selfless volunteer work he has done outside of his full-time study.

As well as being a part of Sydney’s elite International Student Leadership and Ambassador Program (ISLA), which focuses on shaping the best possible experience for international students, Zaki is also a member of the Auburn Council and an active member of Sydney’s Afghan community.

With the Auburn Council, Zaki helps organise various events for new arrivals across the suburb, helping them integrate into the community and ensuring they don’t feel isolated or overwhelmed. Zaki frequently acts as a tour guide, taking groups around the city to taste foods from all over the world and giving them the opportunity to experience Sydney’s multiculturalism. He’s a big advocate of using food “as a great way to connect different communities into one.”

Zaki also does rewarding work within the Afghan community, helping new arrivals get their feet on the ground. Zaki himself knows firsthand what it is like to arrive in a country knowing nobody and with limited understanding of English, and he really sees the value in connecting international students with the wider community.

When he got the call saying he had been nominated as a finalist, Zaki couldn’t believe it – he had hardly imagined he would get the nomination in the first place. “I was so excited; I called my mum and she was so happy she was crying!” he says.

With the NSW International Student of the Year award given annually to the student who has proven to be an inspirational role model, and who has contributed significantly to the community through work that positively impacts the lives of others, we can’t think of a better candidate for the award. One thing is for sure – this is the beginning of a very bright future for Zaki.

“I’m really excited, people are really happy for me – I never imagined I could meet these influential people and have these connections, let alone call them my friends and have their support. It’s a total dream come true.”



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