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2020 Academic Excellence: Schools Awards

The winners in the 2020 schools’ category have excelled in their academic pursuits and contributed much to their school communities and the wider South Australian community through volunteering, mentoring and supporting fellow international students. We invited them to share their stories.

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Winner: Yu (Amy) Shi from China

Studying: International Baccalaureate at Glenunga International High School

Amy came to Adelaide in 2017 to improve her English skills and broaden her global horizons. In the years she’s been here, she’s become a valued member of her Glenunga International High School community, volunteering more than 300 hours as a student leader. As a natural leader with a strong desire to help others, Amy has contributed much of her time and ideas to support both her school community, but also the wider local and global communities through her tireless work. For these reasons, Amy is the 2020 winner of both this Academic Excellence: Schools category, as well as the Community Engagement category. Amy is also the deserving winner of the 2020 International Student of the Year award.

How did you come to study in Adelaide?

In 2017, my mum wanted me to study abroad to improve my English and embrace different cultures. We chose Adelaide because it’s safe and friendly, and my mum thought it would be a good place where I could focus on my studies. As an international student, I’ve found people very approachable and made a lot of friends. My school, Glenunga International High School, has enchanted me with its welcoming community of friendly students and devoted teachers.

Your academic record is impressive. Tell us about your study experience and academic achievements.

I’m undertaking the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB). Due to the amount of workload in the IB, I’ve become more organised and have improved my problem-solving skills. I always get perfect scores and have received Principal’s Awards for Excellent Academic Achievement.  At the Mathematical Association of South Australia’s student quiz night, I was a member of the best mathematics team in the senior section. I was also invited by the Department for Education to be the international student voice representative at the EALD Conference (English as an additional language or dialect). I found my study here successful as teachers have dedicated their role to give me the best learning opportunities.

Tell us about your work as an international student leader at your school.

My work as a student leader has given me an understanding of how to work more collaboratively with peers to bring harmony and development to the school community. As an international mentor who can speak four languages, I’ve volunteered over 300 hours to support international students and help them understand the school and South Australian community.

As a peer support leader, I’ve helped younger Year 8 students make the transition from primary school into high school. As a leader on the Wellbeing Council, I’ve helped organise different activities for international week to embrace the value of being more inclusive for everyone. I’m also a school tour leader showing guests around the school and getting to learn from them about their experiences.

The school acknowledged me as an international mindedness champion for my contributions to various school councils. My involvement in student leadership at Glenunga has been the best experience and will help prepare me for a future career.

What advice do you have for fellow high school students, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?

South Australia has cultural diversity, friendly people and high-quality education. What is true is that it is such a welcoming community, and presents a wide range of opportunities. If you encounter problems, never be scared to ask for help because the people in your community will try their best to help you. And don’t let the pandemic take away what you’re truly passionate about. If we work together as a community, we can tackle the problem.

Amy is also the winner of the 2020 International Student of the Year, and the 2020 Community Engagement Award. Learn more about Amy’s community work and her experiences as the youngest Australian delegate at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific’s Forum to Empower Youth.


Highly Commended: Kliti (Kyle) Daija from Albania

Studying: SACE at Hamilton Secondary College

When Kliti first arrived in Adelaide, he found it hard to adjust to the school system. However, through vigilance and focused determination, Kliti overcame his obstacles and achieved excellent academic results. He earned an A+ for his SACE research project, one of only 8 South Australian students to be given such a high mark.

Outside the classroom, Kliti has contributed to his school in activities such as the Ambassador Club, Performing and Arts Club and helping with various social and sporting events. He also volunteers at the City of Marion, helping out with children’s and cultural events.

Kliti says Adelaide is a student-friendly destination where he has come to understand the meaning and importance of school, and of seeing teachers as coaches. He aspires to become a social worker and says his studies in Adelaide have taught him the value of respect and to be grateful for the things he has. “I have made long-lasting relationships with other people who have supported me in my personal and academic journey.”

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