The Graduate Union of the University of Melbourne in conjunction with the Australian Intercultural Society (AIS) hosted 80 guests at their inaugural Graduate House Ramadan Iftar Banquet at the Graduate Union function centre on the 26th of May 2018.
The evening’s master of ceremonies was Dr Kerry Bennett, CEO and Head of College at the Graduate Union. Dr Suleyman Sertkaya from ISRA Melbourne made the call to prayer.
An introductory speech about the Graduate House and welcome was presented by President of the Graduate Union, Dr Ken V Loughnan. Dr Loughnan briefly introduced graduate union and the work it does. He mentioned that the union is on the front door step of Melbourne University and the back door step of RMIT University with over 700 students taking residence at the college from a range of backgrounds. Dr Loughnan stated that there has been a growing demand for student residential facilities especially for those in postgraduate studies. He outlined that there is a demand, opportunity and also responsibility for the graduate union to expand facilities in order to provide state of the art buildings for students to realize their potential and achieve their ultimate in a homely facility, noting that it is up to us to provide for these future generations.
Ms. Haya Daghlas, a PhD student who was the top engineering graduate at the University of Melbourne in 2017, spoke about the importance of institutions like the Graduate House and the role that they play in sparking diversity and social inclusion in society through education and residential association. She outlined that in ‘an era of golden age of technology and innovation, we are still facing issues of racism and discrimination at a time when we are more connected than ever before’. She stated that university students can be more isolated than ever before. Haya congratulated the Graduate House for ‘offering a platform that brings people of different backgrounds to share and exchange knowledge, culture and human experiences. Iftar isn’t a meal it’s a demonstration of how we accept each other’s differences and focus on operating as one community that celebrates diversity. The Graduate house isn’t offering a space for the ‘other’, rather its accepting a transformation that cultural exchange with the ‘other’ may cause’.
The Chairperson of the Council of the Graduate Union, Mr Rhys Watson spoke to introduce the Graduate Union historically and the role that it plays in the educational sphere alongside the projects that they are currently engaged in.
Ahmet Keskin, Executive Director of Australian Intercultural Society spoke about the significance of the month of Ramadan and what it means for those who partake in it. Following the conclusion of his speech, Ahmet then presented a gift of appreciation on behalf of the Australian Intercultural Society to the President of the Graduate Union, Dr Ken V Loughnan.
The evening concluded with a thank you to all guests for attending the program by the MC Dr Kerry Bennett and a promotional video of Graduate House to end the night.