A week ago, my friend popped a random question, ‘What’s the weather in your heart now?’ My instant reply was: hurricane.
It was only a few days away from the start of the campaign for the AUSA Elections. Posters, banners, masking tape were strewn messily across my room, which was to be the headquarters for my crazy mission. It was crazy because it had never occurred to me to run for AUSA. After all, I am a first year student (based in Epsom campus, no less).
But the thought of campaigning made me tingle with excitement. Ideas started blooming in my head and I felt my footsteps on Symonds Street become more purposeful. And so, I submitted my nomination for the role of International Students’ Officer @ AUSA 2017.
I barely had time to breathe from then onwards. I knew that my position was contested – by a hall mate of mine from Indonesia. Every morning, I awoke with a rush of adrenaline and ran through the mental checklist of campaign prep to complete.
My hall mates would see me sitting out in the corridor, screwing up my face in concentration as I added the finishing touches to my banner. I would knock on their doors, seeking their feedback on the posters I designed.
The day dawned nearer, and nearer. News about Rio Olympics was breaking everywhere but I had little time to care. My mini version of Olympics was just about to begin.
On the morning of 10th August, I sauntered into the university. I didn’t see the other candidates around. Strange, I thought. When the clock struck 10.15am, signalling the start of the campaign, I walked into the Quad casually…
I stared, wide-eyed. There was a flurry of activity; everyone was standing on benches and plastering their posters all over the pillars. Some candidates had teams of supporters armed with masking tape! I scratched desperately at my own, eyeing the white space on the pillars that was gradually diminishing.
I smiled at the lady in front of me who was putting up posters for ‘Alishba Ali’.
‘Are you Alishba?’
‘No, no,’ the lady laughed. ‘I am her mother!’
I couldn’t help grinning at the dedication I was witnessing.
I gave my first campaign speech that day. It was a nail-biting experience, but the CRIM 302 students were supportive. A girl in the front row nodded firmly when I mentioned support for LGBT international students and my friend gave me a thumbs up as I ended.
Affirmed, I did it again and again. I went to law lectures, psychology, sociology, accounting, Chinese… It was not without embarrassments though. I once walked into the wrong venue and explained to an increasingly hostile professor that he had agreed to let me make a speech.
Another time, I was set to speak to Year 2 students from the Early Childhood Education program. I expected to see a lecture theatre filled with students. Instead, the first step I took into the room left me shocked at its intimacy. The lecturer then strode in and, as if there had been some magical cue given, every one rose and went to grab a ukulele. Staring in amazement, I then remembered – it was a lecture on Music Education in the Early Years.
I am writing this blog post on the second last day of the polls. Voting closes in less than twenty-four hours and I will be sitting nervously at Shadows at this time, tomorrow. Convened by Will Matthews, our President who’s running for re-election, this ‘wait-at-Shadows-for-the-election-results’ is apparently a longstanding tradition.
I’m keen to write another blog post thanking each and every individual who has wished me well, as well as pepper the politician wanna-bes with some AUSA election campaign tips! Wish me luck for tomorrow! 🙂
P.S. You may find my campaign page here.