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SSC Newspaper : February 2012
I’VE BEEN PART OF THE Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience, which started out as a small non-for- profit organisation and is now recognised by not only the University of Sydney but also by other organisations and universities. With AIME, we teach the kids life lessons and get them involved with different activities. I’ve mentored a young indigenous student over a two-year period. It’s not like a normal academic mentoring program. Not only do the kids learn, but we also learn. I had to teach hip-hop to my mentee and I’ve never done hip-hop dancing so I learnt something new as well. Because I’ve chosen a profession that involves working with a lot of people, at orientation day I thought it would be great to work with indigenous kids. Our indigenous community has so many problems, especially with basic hygiene, it is important for us to educate them about taking care of their teeth. I finished my Bachelor of Medical Science with honours and now I’m studying a management course. I’m continuing my studies in dentistry at Griffith University. My friend and I are going to start a clinic that provides dental care in rural Australia, where we can provide non-for-profit services and be able to teach the indigenous community about dental care and provide them with treatment. I’ve also been involved with the Multicultural Youth Network, which gathers together all kinds of youth from the western suburbs and universities, and different youth organisations from around Sydney. The reason why I decided to get involved was because I’m entering a career that works with people and it was a good way to get more experience. The thing about AIME is that it helps shape and change a person’s life, and it’s a good feeling to know you’ve had a positive impact on someone’s education. This year my friend and I are aiming to start a rural dental clinic bordering on northern NSW and southern Queensland. We need to help the people in our own country – Australians don’t see the importance of that. My lecturer at Sydney, Dr Brent McParland. nominated me for two of the projects that I’ve been involved in throughout university. It’s very special and I’m elated to have been nominated for the award - and to have won it. IFIRST WENT TO PAPUA New Guinea in 2010 with St Patrick’s. Prior to leaving, we collected used computers from schools around Sydney and flew them over with us to PNG. Students in Australia take for granted what we have. We throw out computers every two years and the kids in PNG have nothing. They are so eager to learn and while we have all these resources, they have nothing. A volcano hit in 1994 and everything was destroyed. Now, what was once a wealthy part of PNG, is now extremely poor because they haven’t had the resources to build. Over 2011, we’ve raised $100,000 through sausage sizzles and asking for donations from the Strathfield community. One of the teachers from school has been going to PNG since the ’70s and helping different communities by bringing educational resources and medical supplies. He was my inspiration to travel to PNG. It was an eye-opening experience because I’d never seen anything like the villages in PNG before. You hear stories in the media but to see it first hand was a rude awakening. I’ll be spending the next eight months in PNG working at the St Mary ’s School in Vunakanau in East Britain. The town was destroyed by a volcano over a decade ago, and what was once a wealthy town is now poverty stricken. The school has barely any resources and it was difficult for me to see the kids so eager to learn and so thankful for the resources we provide for them, compared to us, who have everything and still complain about the little things in our life. I was ecstatic to win the Young Citizen of the Year. It was such a shock. I’ve never won an award like this before. Even my parents were shocked to find out that I had won the award. 30 Strathfield Scene february 2012 people Our first citizens are getting younger Making a difference ... dentistry student Mohit Tolani and former St Patrick’s boy Matthew Nicholl. One thing unites this year’s citizens of the year – in what is believed to be a first, both are aged under 25. No surprises as to why the pair were honoured, however – both already have an extensive résumé of volunteer work. Here they tell their stories. “It was an eye-opening experience.” “It’s a good feeling to know you’ve had a positive impact” Mohit Tolani, 23 Citizen of the Year Matthew Nicholl, 18 Young Citizen of the Year