What to Do for Students Who Arrive at Australian University and Find...

What to Do for Students Who Arrive at Australian University and Find Winter in July

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scarves for immigrant Aussie students-submitted-Cris Clucas

A few years ago we posted a story about “yarn bombers” in the US making scarves and leaving them hanging from trees in the park for anyone who needed warmth.

The article, with photo of a snowy park with trees and scarves, sparked an idea for Cris Clucas, who works at a university in Canberra, the capital of Australia. In July it is winter ‘down under’, but many international students arrive from the Northern Hemisphere, where they leave their summer behind to discover a very cold climate.

Cris’s idea was for students, staff and professors to get together, which she says normally “never happens,” to knit scarves and hats to give to new students as a welcome gift.

“At first I was thinking just about the new students and making them feel welcome but the end result was the creation of community—across the boundaries of undergrad and postgrad students, of international and Australian students, and across the generations of students and staff,” she told Good News Network. “It had the added benefits of knitting (mindfulness), being creative, and doing something for others.”

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After media coverage, the project at Australian National University spread to involve members of the Canberra community; people from “all over” donated yarn and sent messages of support.

“We ended up with a beautiful presentation of warm hand-knitted items to give the new students,” she said. “Each had a tag and a hand written message of welcome from the creator.”

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The group is doing it again this year for the second time and Cris is headed to a conference to report on the project as an example of how to create community across boundaries and help new students to feel belonging in the community.

“Thank you for being the inspiration—from across the world—for this project,” she wrote in an email, realizing that ‘community’ now extends way beyond international borders, thanks to the internet.

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