OVERCOMING extreme poverty, 36-year-old nursing student Hybee is now supporting young migrants experiencing hardships and challenges in Victorian communities. In a series of interviews with award winners of the 2015 Victoria International Education Awards, Nicole Tee shares Hybee’s story.
Receiving the International Student of the Year for Vocation Education and Training (VET) was something Nigerian student Aibinuomo Iyiade “Hybee” never expected in his lifetime.
The youngest in a family of eight, Hybee grew up in extreme poverty and was hindered from going to school due to his family’s financial difficulties. Upon receiving the award, Hybee humbly acknowledged his past, his family and financial status and further expressed that he should not be the one to receive the award; an award he deemed as a “symbol of hope”.
“This [award] is something I can [use to] encourage [others] and to build a person. If you think you are in any challenge, don’t think this is the end — it might just be a training ground for you. I never believed I could be here, and today I am receiving the award.”
In Melbourne, everybody is ready to accept you, everybody is ready to support you. Above all else, the sense of security you get from Melbourne, I’m not sure you can get it elsewhere.”
Hybee is currently pursuing a Diploma of Nursing at Box Hill Institute. Having prior knowledge in construction, he hopes to converge his knowledge in construction with his current field of nursing, and aspires to become a teacher in nursing.
Inspired by his own experiences and the difficulties he faced as an international student, Hybee is also actively involved in supporting young migrants who are experiencing difficulties in integrating into Victorian communities. He frequently brings migrants out to dine together, to share their experiences and to provide emotional support to them.
“I love doing this, I love supporting people. That’s because I have the experience, I have experienced it and I know what was missing. So I know what to give,” he said.
Despite being far away from his home country, Hybee considers Melbourne his “home away from home”. His decision to come to Melbourne was sparked by his interest in Australia which he has had since he was a child. Hearing stories about the country from his father, a geography teacher, Hybee decided to settle in Melbourne because of its diverse multicultural background and its sense of inclusiveness, and describes the city as a large open community that allows him to feel safe as an international student.
I love doing this, I love supporting people. That’s because I have the experience, I have experienced it and I know what was missing. So I know what to give.
“In Melbourne, everybody is ready to accept you; everybody is ready to support you. Above all else, the sense of security you get from Melbourne… I’m not sure you can get it elsewhere.”
He advises international students not to isolate themselves, but be as engaged as they can be in this open community.
“I don’t feel different anywhere I am [in Melbourne]. I am black in skin, but I don’t feel any different. Most days I don’t even see it, so if you are contemplating where to go, I think Melbourne is just the right city for you”.
The Victorian International Educational Awards (VIEA) is an awards ceremony that celebrates the outstanding achievements of education institutions and international students in Victoria.