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Crawford School introduces our fantastic staff, so you can meet the people of Asia and the Pacific’s leading graduate policy school.
This time around, we talk Student Recruitment and Alumni Officer Lam Hua about why caring for students at Crawford School is more than just helping them through the application process, and what she misses most about working from the office.
What is your role at Crawford and what do you enjoy most about your role?
I work in the international student recruitment team. I do many different tasks related to managing international students in the Master and PhD programs.
One of my main roles is managing the Australia Award Scholarships applications for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Scholarship program. I have been trained by DFAT in this role to access scholarship applications for students.
As part of the recruitment team, I help potential students to apply to Crawford School. I also provide support for all aspects of the students’ pastoral care including arranging their accommodation, bank accounts, provide supporting documents for their family visas, help enrol their children in school, organise their child care and generally get them oriented.
I enjoy working with international students and getting to know more about their different cultures. Crawford has given me a fantastic opportunity and I love being a member of the International Recruitment and Scholarship team.
Can you tell us about one of your personal highlights working at Crawford School?
I don’t have a single personal highlight as such, but what I really appreciate at Crawford is the opportunity to work with a diverse group of students from different cultural and personal backgrounds. I really respect the different cultures of countries. This is a great part of my job. If students are struggling with their studies or with homesickness or things like that, I like being able to help them. I like listening to people and giving pastoral care where I can, but I also know that ANU has great student support services such as counselling and healthcare, so I often refer students to them. I am lucky to have great colleagues in our team who I can consult with on tricky cases like this. I like being able to help with practical things, too, such as helping students access better laptops for exams or whatever they need to help them through their degrees. I think our team works really well together to make all this happen.
What is the most important thing for you about working with students?
Firstly, it is important to me that students have a good experience here so they can go back and inspire people in their country to further their education. I have learnt from own experience when I was with my family (two small children) in Germany and my husband was studying his PhD there. I understand how important it is for a student to have his/her families settled so that he/she can focus on the study. I hope that they recommend others to study with us because they have had a great experience studying here.
What I do might not seem to be a big thing, but when the students tell me that they appreciate it, it makes me feel emotional – in a good way! I miss them when they go, and feel sad when they leave. It feels good if I know I’ve done the right thing for students – it makes me feel happy. I love getting their photos so I can remember them. Sometimes, I do not feel I have enough time for all of them but when they share their photos and very touching words it is enough for me.
What’s the most interesting place you’ve lived in?
I’ve lived in lots of different places. I’m from Vietnam originally; however, I’ve lived in the Philippines, Germany, Canada, and now Australia. The place I’d really like to go back to is Toronto. Even though it is really cold in winter, the houses are beautifully warmed and they have great heating infrastructure in Canada – unlike Canberra, which I find cold! I love the heating in Canada. The PATH is also great: it’s Toronto’s downtown underground pedestrian walkway system and we could go from our building to the shops to the kids’ school and to work without having to go into the cold.
What do you enjoy most about working from home/what do you miss most?
I actually don’t enjoy working from home, so instead I’ll mention the one advantage I can think of for me, and that is more flexibility in picking the kids up from school. I have found it pretty hard working from home. I really miss working in a team and especially in our team. I’m fairly new to the team and the others have been there for longer and sometimes I need them to provide me with good advice. Sometimes I don’t understand how to solve things until faced with a real problem, and that’s where being in the office with my colleagues is a real help. We can’t always provide support to students online; sometimes, I need to physically interact with students and my colleagues. If I work in the office, I can contact any of my colleagues to give me the benefit of their experience and to ask them to suggest what to do. When I do that, I get a good answer straight away, which is better for me than working from home and having to send an email to a colleague who I used to sit next to and then wait for an answer. This has certainly slowed things down for me.
I really love my team. They are all supportive, such nice people, and really helpful. I don’t think I could find a better team than our team at the moment. I feel I am lucky to have the chance to work with them.