For Jedidiah Van Din Thang, making the most of his Trinity experience so far has meant getting involved, seizing opportunities, and working to make a difference wherever possible.
Hailing from Myanmar, Jed first moved to Australia with his family when his dad was studying for a PhD in theology. He completed four years of school in Melbourne before returning to Myanmar – taking with him memories of an accommodating, friendly and multicultural city that he considered a second home. And so, when he was offered the opportunity to return to Melbourne and take part in Foundation Studies at Trinity many years later, he jumped at the chance.
Currently in his second year of a commerce degree, Jed now lives on campus in Trinity’s Residential College and looks back fondly at his time in Foundation Studies – a formative period of making lifelong friendships and connections with people from around the globe.
During his Foundation Studies year, he began his now-ongoing involvement with the Young Christian Leadership Program, which seeks to create dialogue and understanding between Christian denominations, as well as the Pathways Liaison Committee, which aims to facilitate connections between Foundation Studies and Residential College students.
Jed’s keen desire to get involved in campus life has followed him into his tertiary education, seeing him enthusiastically take part in the College’s social sports and film society, as well as a victorious turn in one of Trinity’s oldest and most-beloved initiation ceremonies, Juttoddie.
He’s also the publicity director for the University of Melbourne’s Myanmar Student Association – a club that holds immense importance to him, with its goal to provide emotional and academic support, as well as facilitate networking and social opportunities, for the growing number of Myanmar students across campus.
‘I love my country and my life has been [about] wanting to help my people,’ says Jed.
For Jed, being the recipient of three scholarships – for both Trinity’s Foundation Studies and Residential College, as well as for the University of Melbourne – is a source of immense pride for him. Not only on a personal level, but also because he sees it as proof for those back home of what’s possible through determination, hard work and self-belief.
‘I believe that anyone in this world can better themselves and can work to being in a better position than they are in, if they just have self-confidence and believe in their ability,’ he says. ‘I’m very proud to be able to show my people that we’re all created equally. It’s a great feeling to be able to take part in the dispelling of the notion that we are inferior.’
As his jam-packed CV would hint, Jed has plenty of impressive aims for the future, and wants to use his skills to help improve the lives of his fellow country folk.
‘If I stay in Australia, I’m hoping to work as a consultant for a bit. But the end goal is always to return home to Myanmar and set up a business there,’ he says. ‘Once I am able to support myself and my family, then I’ll move into more social enterprises – whether that’s education, poverty alleviation, or just bringing together the many different ethnicities.’
And could a career in politics one day be on the cards?
‘If all goes well, then maybe I’m thinking of holding political office,’ he says. ‘The goal is to help my people in any way I can.’
By Juliet Mentor