For Bachelor of Film and Television student, Ez Eldin Deng, stepping into his first class at Swinburne four years ago was a childhood dream come true.
Ez grew up in a family home without electricity and luxuries like television were afforded by only a few in his neighbourhood.
“We didn’t have a TV in my home in Sudan, so my aunty and other relatives would go next door to watch the neighbour’s television,” he recalls.
“I was about three years old and one day they took me next door. I saw this little box with people inside, and they were talking! I had such curiosity and questions in my head, watching these tiny people in the box.
“When I first arrived at the Swinburne campus I felt excited because I realised that this was the place I would finally learn how to ‘put people inside a TV,” he laughs.
With civil war raging, Ez and his family fled Sudan for Egypt, arriving in Australia in 2004. Just six years later, after language lessons and much determination, Ez applied and was accepted into Swinburne’s Bachelor of Film and Television.
For Ez, transition into university was a time of incredible excitement, but like every new student, the thrill of embarking on study also brought along the challenges and uncertainties of a new environment.
“First of all, I was the only African kid in my class, but there were other things too,” Ez remembers.
“Once, I was standing there speaking in front of the class, trying to project my voice to everyone. It was overwhelming, being in front of 30 students and the teacher, with them listening and observing every little move.”
Meeting assignment deadlines and developing confidence were some of the first challenges for Ez.
“At the start I needed help with being confident and advice on how to finish projects on time and planning assignments, because I was really struggling with those things,” he recalls.
“So, every Wednesday I would go to the Learning and Academic Skills Centre to go through the essay I had just been given with a counsellor, and they would teach me how to meet the deadline.”
Ez says that personal support from caring staff also played a big part in helping to bring out his best. With the help of tutors and lecturers, he became a more confident person and more accomplished with assessments.
He speaks fondly of his first year script writing and directing lecturer, Vincent Giarrusso, who made a real difference to Ez by investing extra time to guide him through projects and assignments.
“I knew that Ez had some important and incredible personal experiences that he could bring to filmmaking,” Mr Giarrusso says.
“What I found really worked with him was sitting down together, one-on-one, and going through scripts line by line.