A life-long bond

Saman Rai (GDipPubAdmin '15, MPubPol '16)
25 Jul 2022

When I travelled to Australia from Pakistan to study at the Australian National University (ANU) Crawford School of Public Policy, I brought my five-month-old daughter and four-year-old son with me. My husband stayed back in Pakistan due to his work. Though he was able to visit us twice, however I studied and took care of children on my own. So, when I decided to study at Crawford, it was me as a mother, selecting a campus. ANU offered everything I needed including safety, access to basic amenities, high-quality education, and most importantly the comfort of living in one of the most livable cities, Canberra.

Initially, it was a tough beginning, as I wasn't used too to studying with kids around. But before long, I discovered that the faculty was totally understanding, they have flexible policies and they don't have rigid structures, which helped me so much in academic goals.

I remember once our fellow student had a six-month-old son whom she had brought along to a class after vaccination from ANU Medical Centre. All the professors were super excited and accommodative towards the baby and session was conducted without any hassle.

It was no less than a cultural shock, because here in Pakistan when you are in the workplace, you can't really think of taking breaks, let alone having children around. Even if you do, people might actually take, you know, a skeptical view of you. But it was totally different at ANU. The entire ANU management comprises of professionals with an inclusive approach to make friendly policies so that mothers and students are not intimidated at all.

Through my degree program, I realised that the Australian social policy - in terms of taking good care of mothers and children - is much better than in lots of OECD countries. I decided that I would learn everything I could about the same and ended up graduating with a Master's in Public Policy, specialising in Social Policy.

My two years at ANU imparted so much more than just my degree. It gave me and my children beautiful memories to cherish. My son started his playgroup at ANU and now he has just moved into class seven. And Sakina, my daughter was only five-months-old when we first arrived in Australia, and now she is in class four. After all these years, they still remember Australia and ANU - with its cockatiels, ducklings and, sparrows in the nooks and corners of campus; the azure skies and sprawling lawns.

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