Deon Teo, 2016 Club President of the Year

  • Originally from Singapore, has been living in NZ for three years now
  • Studying a double degree in Psychology and Law at Victoria
  • Enjoys boxing in his spare time

He says, 'When I first arrived here, I helped start the Singapore club. I was lucky because I met other Singaporeans who had been here longer than me. They helped me become more involved.

'If I could link it with V-ISA, being involved in a community allowed me the opportunity to see what was available and then the barriers. If my friends hadn’t introduced me I wouldn’t have become involved.' 

Top tip

Don’t be afraid to start conversations with people you don’t know.

It's all about the people

People motivate Deon to strive in his life. With so many opportunities having opened up through the connections he's made, it's no wonder.

'I think my interest [in people] comes from living in a new country. Being in a new country I found I was a foreigner, everything was new to me. Meeting new people was the best way to learn about the culture, life. In the first year I met different international students. 

'Meeting with people helps you learn about more than yourself. You learn about the struggles that other people are going through and you can recognise the commonalities between yourself and them. You can also help.'

His secret to putting yourself out there

Deon put himself out there, and met people to learn about the New Zealand culture. His circumstances helped him develop in an area that many people find a little uncomfortable: feeling okay with talking and finding commonalities with just about everyone. It's sure paid off three years on as he's developed a strong network across the university. 

'A few years ago I didn’t know anyone, but that taught me not to be afraid of people. I’ve learnt to meet strangers. I’ve also learnt to listen. This has helped me to work with people and see their points of view. Seeing things from other people’s points of view is not scripted, so I’ve learned to read between the lines.'  

It's all about time management

Full time university is full-on enough, and many students mix in paid or unpaid part-time work, and some sort of social life. Deon's found a rhythm to the fine art of balancing study, club responsibilities and meeting new people.

'It’s hard. The club is a part time job, and studying is full time. It’s about time management. What really helps is at the start of the week I plan my schedule. It’s not so much about sticking with it, but doing something. And writing things down, that helps.'

And boxing

Deon loves boxing. Not watching as much as practicing. And the famous boxer he looks up to is...

'Mohammed Ali.

'He converted to Islam in a time when racial tensions in America were high. He believed so strongly in the religion. He held on to his beliefs despite pressures from society to go against them. He inspired me because of his persistence to stand up for what he believed in, even though he faced a lot of pressure. He was also a really good boxer.'

About V-ISA

Victoria International Students' Association (V-ISA) is about two and a half years old. It started off because the founder identified a gap for international student representation at Victoria. 

V-ISA provides the environment for international students to integrate with one another. It hosts a range of social activities throughout the year, such as move nights, amazing race, and international week, so student have the chance to meet new people. Meeting new people helps with language barriers. Student also exchange exams techniques at V-ISA.

For more information about V-ISA check out their Facebook page