DUELI student leaders making a mark

The two women behind the barbeque spread have a mission. ‘Five dollars only for all you want,’ calls out Aegean, while Maria replenishes the fast-disappearing food on the table.

Deakin students Aegean Wu and Maria del Pilar Bonilla are raising funds for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) – an organisation devoted to protecting and caring for animals. And in the process they have established a chance for new Deakin University English Language Institute (DUELI) students to meet-and-greet on campus.

Both Aegean and Maria were once DUELI students themselves, and after improving their English at DUELI they entered Deakin as postgraduate students. As a way of giving back – and to improve their CVs – Aegean and Maria entered DUELI’s Leadership Program, working for the University to assist new English-language students.

Aegean, left and Maria, right.

Aegean, left and Maria, right.

Maria and Aegean’s barbeques are a chance for English language students to socialise with classmates on campus soon after their arrival in a new country, which is a very welcome occasion. Besides being able to find their feet at Deakin, new students are able to engage with peers in a relaxed social setting. And especially for DUELI students, the barbeque is a wonderful way to initiate them into the Australian way of raising funds for charity while catching up over a plate.

But that’s not all; Aegean and Maria have also been organising the DUELI Festival. This festival series, with each event modelled on a cultural theme, is a follow up from the barbeque. ‘The theme of the first festival was the [Chinese] Lunar [New] Year,’ explains Aegean, who is an international student from China, ‘and the dancers gave an enthralling performance.’

The second DUELI Festival was all about Latin American culture. Maria, who hails from Colombia, was totally at home organising it for benefit of the new arrivals. ‘It also provides a platform for students to glimpse what other cultures can offer,’ she said. ‘And DUELI attracts students from all over the world.’


Aegean and Maria receive their certificates from the RSPCA after donating the money.

And above it all, the two women say their event planning for the University has given them a wonderful opportunity to put their theoretical learning to practical test. Maria, a final year MBA student, is rapt at the hands-on end-to-end project management she has undertaken in the process of organising these events. And Aegean, a Master of Professional Accounting and International Finance dual-degree student, has entered it all in her neat little ledger, as she manages the budgeting as well as procuring all the food and entertainment services. All while raising a neat sum of over A$1300 to donate to the RSPCA.

‘Mission accomplished,’ they exclaim!

For further information about studying at Deakin and to view the many degrees on offer, visit our international student page

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