Nominated as a Finalist in the 2019 Multicultural Queensland Awards - Outstanding Young Achiever.
Rwandan refugee Amiel Nubaha was born in a Refugee Camp in Tanzania following the 1994 Rwandan Genocide but spent most of his early teenage years in Zimbabwe. Amiel migrated to Australia in 2009 through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Resettlement Program. Amiel is now set to graduate with Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith and has already made his mark on the world through leadership activities.
“I migrated to Australia at the age of 14 with my parents and siblings (2 brothers and 2 sisters). We moved to Tasmania first and then later settled in Logan, Brisbane. I went to Mansfield State High School, and just like any other young refugee, you don't know what the future holds for you. So, when I started school, a lot of us had uncertainty about what tomorrow may bring, so we just have to work hard in the hope that some days will get better.”
Amiel indeed worked hard thinking finishing high school might not even be an option before migrating to Australia. At Mansfield State High School, Amiel became a Prefect, and through his commitment and determination to succeed he was selected to be part of the 2013 National Youth Science Forum which was held in Canberra.
When he finished Year 12 at Mansfield State High School Amiel enrolled in the Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith and is on track to graduate in July this year and has had a range of opportunities to undertake leadership and exchange activities.
“In my 2nd year of Law school, I represented Australia at the Asia-Pacific Student Leadership Conference which was held at Taylor University, Malaysia and in my 4th year of Law school, I also took some time away and participated in the International Student Exchange Program at National Taiwan University.”
Amiel extended his leadership skills and became a founding member of Rotary Club of Rochedale South East Technology Park Inc. He is now the President of the Rwanda Association of Queensland Inc., Vice President of the Federation of Rwanda Communities in Australia and a Youth Member for Woodridge at Queensland Youth Parliament. Amiel has also been nominated to attend the 2019 Caux Scholars Program which will take place in Switzerland and takes only 20 students per year. The Caux Scholars Program teaches students to identify and analyse conflicts and uses practical methods to diffuse them through skills such as conflict prevention, negotiation, development studies, international relations, legislation and policy, and transitional justice.
In all these roles Amiel wants to take a proactive approach to improving cross-cultural ties between newly settled migrants and the broader Australian community as well as make change on a global scale. He draws on his own refugee experiences and through his studies to advocate for displaced people including through political and justice systems. Amiel believes that the challenges he has faced in his life and while studying have been made easier with a supportive family.
“Being part of the family in a way which creates harmony, peace and comfort in your own immediate family. Because when you are at peace at home, you have a safe and supportive encouraging environment to go back, to me that was very powerful. I have a supportive family, so my parents are always supportive, my siblings are always supportive, so I'm very privileged that my family has been my number one support that I'm very proud of.”
In reflecting on how he overcame challenges throughout his journey at Griffith, Amiel also said he felt that his background meant it was very hard to catch up with Australian culture as well as academic work.
“For me, self-discipline, that is how I have managed to overcome a lot of my challenges. With self-discipline, that means knowing what to do, knowing when to do it, knowing how to do it, knowing your limits but most importantly positioning yourself accordingly to maximise your potential.”
Amiel said he found there was a lot of support available and he was able to access financial support such as scholarships and he accessed a range of resources and support while at Griffith. Amiel credited the staff across the University and in particular those who have supported him in the Law school and Griffith School of Criminology. He said they worked tirelessly to support him, and students like him from refugee backgrounds, and he wouldn’t be where he is today without them. Amiel also gave back to his fellow students by being a Griffith Mates Student Mentor, Vice President of the Griffith University African Student Association, and again leading others through
“My university experience has been positive, very positive, and I'm very humble for all the support which Griffith offered to me along with all students who came through the refugee spectrum. Be flexible to engage people around you and listen, ask, ask, ask. when you ask, then doors will be open for you. Ask, ask, ask and engage with people around you.”
When asked about his future Amiel said he had a particular path in mind and Griffith opened him up to greater opportunities to explore. Amiel is keen to find a career that allows him to give back to the Australian community and to inspire young people, young Australians to be active participants in their respective areas.
Amiel’s advice to others who are considering their futures is to don’t let their future be overshadowed by their past. Be proud of who you are and work hard because hard work will always pay off. It may take time, but again "hard work" will take you there!